Ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, we dig through the archives to highlight a hero from a previous tournament. Next up, Vilimoni Delasau.
Vilimoni Waqatabu Delasau was born on 12 July 1977 in Ba, Fiji and enjoyed an eclectic rugby career. Like so many of his contemporaries from the Pacific Island, the speedster made his name in the sevens game, touching down 85 times, and holds the record for most tries scored in one match with six. That inevitably caught the eye of the XV-a-side team and Delasau duly made his debut against the USA. In total, the wing appeared 29 times for the national team, scoring 11 tries, and took part in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
On the club scene, Delasau played in both the northern and southern hemispheres, starting in Japan where he remained for two years before joining Stade Montois. A stint in New Zealand followed with Canterbury in the National Provincial Championship and the Crusaders in Super Rugby, but it was at Clermont Auvergne where he really made an impact. The back had come off an outstanding World Cup in ’07 when he scored one of the great Heineken Cup tries, collecting the ball near his own line and sprinting over 90 metres to touch down against Wasps. He never quite recaptured that form after that and ended his professional career in 2012 following a couple of years with Toulouse.
His Rugby World Cup moment
It has been a wonderful week for Wales with them claiming top spot in the world rankings, but things were rather gloomier back in 2007 as they were ousted by Delesau’s Fiji, 38-34. Gareth Jenkins’ men were heavy favourites heading into the encounter but they were stunned by a blistering Fijian first-half performance. Akapusi Qera scored the first try before the wing came to the fore, scoring a brilliant individual effort to move his side 12-3 ahead.
Delasau continued to threaten in the opening period as they opened up a 25-10 lead at the interval before Wales came back into the contest. Martyn Williams went over to seemingly snatch the victory for the Welsh but, once again, up stepped the back three player. Fiji were stressing the opposition rearguard but they needed a piece of magic to unlock it and his pace, power and excellent decision-making got them to within inches of the line. He was stopped short but Graham Dewes was on hand to cross the whitewash and win the game for the Fijians in one of the tournament’s great shocks.
This series is open to all our readers so if you have a World Cup hero – for whatever reason or from whichever country – then get on your computer and pay tribute to them in the above format. We will strive to publish as many as possible before and during the tournament. Email your piece to firstname.lastname@example.org