Fiji hit by more tragedy at the Rugby World Cup as Sam Matavesi’s dad dies, days before they face England… but hooker is expected to play alongside Josua Tuisova, who missed his son’s funeral to stay at the tournament
- Fiji are set to face England on Sunday after reaching the World Cup quarter-final
- Hooker Sam Matavesi has played in all four of their games at the tournament
- However, Fiji Rugby tragically announced Matavesi’s father has passed away
- Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results
Fiji have been hit by more tragedy at the Rugby World Cup after it was announced that hooker Sam Matavesi’s dad has died – but he’s still expected to play against England this weekend.
The Pacific Islanders have been one of the stories of the tournament in France after they made the quarter-finals for just the third time in their history following a memorable victory over Australia in the Pool stage.
They are set to take on Steve Borthwick’s side in the last eight on Sunday, fresh from a famous 30-22 win against them at Twickenham back in August.
However, in tragic news ahead of the clash, Fiji announced on Wednesday that Matavesi’s father has died.
In a statement they said: ‘It is with heavy hearts that the Fiji Rugby Union, The Flying Fijians Team and Head Coach Simon Raiwalui share the news of our hooker Sam Matavesi and former Flying Fijian Josh Matavesi, who have lost their beloved father, The Late Sireli Matavesi.
Fiji Rugby have announced that the father of hooker Sam Matavesi has tragically passed away
Matavesi (right) has played every game as Fiji reached the quarter-finals for just the third time
‘Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the Matavesi family during this incredibly difficult time.
‘We keep Sam, Josh and their families in our thoughts and prayers.’
Matavesi – who plays his club rugby for Northampton Saints – flew back to England to be with his family in Cornwall following the the tragic news. However, he is still expected to face the Red Rose in Marseille in just four days time.
Fiji’s kicking coach Seremaia Bai confirmed Matavesi had returned to England, where his father was based, and revealed the hooker was in the whole team’s thoughts as he said: ‘We would like to send our condolences to Sam and the family.
‘He’s one of our senior leaders and we’ll see in a couple of days if he is going to join us.
‘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.’
Matavesi has played in all four of Fiji’s games in France, while his brother Josh won 47 caps for his country before retiring in the aftermath of the 2019 World Cup.
The news of the passing of Matavesi’s father comes after the son of centre and star man Josua Tuisova also passed away last month, with Tuisova choosing to miss his funeral and instead play on at the tournament.
It was reported that Isikeli Ratulevu, the centre’s father, informed Tuisova just hours before Fiji’s dramatic 17-12 win over Georgia in Bordeaux last month of his child’s passing at the age of just seven after a long illness.
Fiji paid tribute to Matavesi’s father in a statement and sent their prayers to his whole family
It comes after Josua Tuisova chose to play on at the World Cup despite the death of his son
Despite being told of his son’s death on the eve of the match, Tuisova played 79 minutes and helped his team recover from a 9-0 deficit to claim victory before he was yellow carded late on.
‘With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of our beloved Tito Micgabraph Donzel Ratulevu,’ a statement read at the time.
‘He is the son of Mr Josua Tuisova and Mrs Katarina Ladoge Ramoce.
‘Affectionately known as “Tito,” he peacefully departed after a prolonged battle with a debilitating illness in Lautoka hospital.’
Fiji have never gone past the quarter-final stage at the World Cup and will hope to make history when they take on England on Sunday afternoon.
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