The nation of Fiji is a compilation of more than 332 islands of which 110 are permanently inhabited. The two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu account for 87% of Fiji’s population.
Fiji made their tentative steps into the world of international Rugby League in 1992 when they played their first international against Western Samoa, a game they lost 32-18. In the same year Fiji recorded their biggest ever Rugby League win in a 54-6 victory over the Cook Islands.
The ‘Bati’ as they are known, made their first World Cup appearance in 1995 when they were placed in the same group as Australia and England. After defeating fellow group members South Africa, the Fijians suffered two heavy defeats to Australia and England and failed to progress through the tournament. In 2000, Fiji were again placed in the same group as Australia and England and again suffered the same fate.
The 2008 World Cup saw Fiji make a huge impression on the sport as they reached the semi-final stage beating both France and Ireland before again suffering at the hands of Australia.
Fiji has produced some of the finest players in Rugby League history including wing superstar Noa Nadruku, who joined Canberra Raiders and in 1993 became the top try-scorer in the Australian NRL. Other notable players include try-machine Lote Tuqiri, Petero Civoniceva, one of the most capped players in Australian Rugby League history and current captain Wes Naiqama.
Rugby League is in the midst of a period of sustained growth within Fiji and the current domestic competition consists of 12 sides split between the islands. On a par with the Australian Rugby League season, Fiji holds a State of Origin type match between the East and West sides of the nation.