Fiji men’s rugby sevens Coach Ben Ryan calls his team the “Harlem Globetrotters of rugby.”
In the gold medal match of the fast-paced, physical sport’s Olympic debut, the Fijians made Great Britain look like the Washington Generals, cruising and bruising their way to a 36-7 win and the island nation’s first Olympic medal in 14 Summer Games.
Fiji has won back-to-back World Sevens Series titles, but its Olympic triumph is one of the better stories of the Rio Games. As Post columnist Jerry Brewer chronicled on Wednesday, the operating budget for the team is about $590,000 this year, less than a quarter of what other national teams spend. Some of the players on Fiji’s roster — which includes prison wardens, army officers, police officers and bellhops — have bypassed lucrative offers to play overseas in order to pursue an Olympic medal. Other members of the team are unemployed.
“But if we give Fiji a gold medal, we will have jobs for life,” team captain Osea Kolinisau said earlier this week.
Mission accomplished, and if you haven’t read Brewer’s column it’s worth your time.
South Africa defeated Japan, 54-14, in Thursday’s bronze medal match.