Fiji Bati rugby league 9s coach Vula Dakuitoga has issued an apology on behalf of the team for the fight that broke out at the end of the gold medal match against Samoa on Wednesday night.
There were some ugly scenes witnessed at the end of the Pacific Games rugby league 9s final at the National Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Samoa had the game and gold in the bag with an 8-0 win and was awarded possession with a last minute penalty.
A small scuffle triggered the fight as players exchanged punches, prompting officials to intervene.
“I know you might have witnessed what happened on the field but let me assure you that we must not make it is something big. It happens in rugby league matches, tempers flared, fists flew and that’s all part and parcel of the game. If you see, what happens on the field stays on the field,” Dakuitoga expressed.
“But if anyone thinks that we are unsportsmanlike than I am sorry, on behalf of the boys I want to seek for forgiveness, forgive the boys but they don’t think that we are bad sports people because things like that happen in a game, what happens over there, stays there and all is buried after the game.”
The players were able to sort things out with handshakes and a prayer. In explaining what went wrong during the game, Dakuitoga said they simply did not make the right calls in crucial moments.
Four years ago, Fiji was the King of 9s but after a gruelling 18 minutes battle with the Samoans, the national side could not uphold that status.
“It’s not what we wanted but it is what it is, we did not take our chances, that’s why those things happened, the opportunities were there but the boys did not make use of them,” Dakuitoga stated with disappointment in his eyes.
“Decision making is very crucial, we had opportunities out there where we could’ve scored a try but unfortunately it did not happen so we just have to accept our fate.
“We wouldn’t be here if the boys did not perform, we did everything right but unfortunately when it mattered the most, we failed.”
Samoa scored a try in each half and mounted defensive pressure on Fiji whenever they had possession. Fiji’s best chance came early in the second half but a desperate try-saving tackle by the opposition denied them the four points.
The Fiji women’s team won bronze after beating Samoa 4-0 while Tonga took silver and the Cook Islands scooped the gold medal.