CAPTION: Ambassador Gilles Montagnier with (l-r) Napolioni Nalaga (ASM Clermont), Peceli Yato (U20 Clermont Ferrand Academy & Wame Lewaravu (Stade Montois).
The French Ambassador Gilles Montagnier last night hosted a reception at the French Residence in Suva for Fiji’s France-based rugbymen and the U20 players who recently returned from the IRB Junior World Championship in France.
An avid rugby fan, Ambassador Montagnier pointed out that relations between France and Fiji are ancient and wide ranging but the strongest being our shared love for sports, in particular rugby!
He applauded the natural Fijian flair for the game stating that “There are close to 200 Fiji rugbymen playing at all levels in France and they are all highly valued. A club that does not have at least one player from the South Pacific is not considered a threat!”
U20s Head Coach Viliame Gadolo is expecting more than 10 of Fiji’s JWC U20 players to join French clubs, the first of whom is expected to leave the country later this month to join La Rochelle.
With Fiji’s overseas remittances of over $300Million a year now ranking second highest in foreign exchange earnings; the increase in the number of players being contracted to overseas clubs is encouraging and a positive contribution to the growth of Fiji’s economy.
Rugby greats at the reception included Seremaia Bai (twice French Champion with Clermont & Castres), Napolioni Nalaga (European Cup Finals 2013 and French Champion 2010 with Clermont), Timoci Nagusa (Montpellier), Wame Lewaravu (Stade Montois), members of the U20 team and FRU Officials. Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps and business community.