England’s rivals Fiji hit by new tragedy after Josua Tuisova skips son’s funeral

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Fiji have been rocked by another family tragedy at the Rugby World Cup ahead of this weekend’s quarter-final match against England. Steve Borthwick’s side will be the favourites to progress to the last four but have already been beaten by Fiji this year and will need to be at their very best in order to get a result.

England’s upcoming opponents are currently without hooker Sam Matavesi, who has left the camp following the death of his father, Sireli. Matavesi, who is based in England and plays for Northampton in the Premiership, raced back to Cornwall to be with his family but is expected to return in time to play for his country on Sunday.

Matavesi’s father had been based in Cornwall for more than three decades and played rugby for Camborne after moving to the UK following a tour in the 1980s. He was confirmed to have died following an illness, with Fiji kicking coach Seremaia Bai explaining that Matavesi could still face England this weekend in spite of the tragic news.

“We would like to send our condolences to Sam and the family,” said Bai. “He’s one of our senior leaders and we’ll see in a couple of days if he is going to join us.

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“For us in Fiji family is everything. If one suffers, we all emotionally suffer. We know every player’s family comes from humble beginnings so we make sure they have the care and love they need. It’s a very tough moment, we need to stay together for one another.”

It comes just days after Fiji centre Josua Tuisova decided to stay in France after learning that his seven-year-old son had died. He missed the funeral in order to represent the Flying Fijians in their final pool stage match against Portugal, which they lost in one of the biggest upsets of the Rugby World Cup so far.

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Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu paid a heartfelt tribute to Tuisova on Monday, thanking him for choosing to stay with the team in what must have been one of the hardest decisions of his life.

“Everyone was sad about the news and we have all been trying to look after him,” said Nayacalevu. “He’s been sad, but he’s really strong. If it was me, I don’t know if I could do what he is doing. We keep encouraging him and telling him he’s OK. He [Tuisova’s son] has gone to a better place.

“He has managed that well and controlled it well, his emotions. I am proud of him and proud of the sacrifice he has made for the team. He has stuck with us. Words can’t express how thankful I am to him for doing that for the team.”

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