Fiji National Rugby League
Introduced to Fiji in only 1992, Rugby League has had a long history with Fijian players making their mark, particularly in the 1960s when remarkable players like Joe Levula and Laitia Ravouvou joined the Rochdale Hornets and became household names in the English competition.
Interest and participation in Rugby League spread like wild fire throughout Fiji and with continued success in the World Sevens, the Batis began playing full 13-aside games against international teams. By 1994, Fiji had thrashed the Great Britain Amateur tourists (40-8) and, captained by mighty front-rower James Pickering, managed to beat France (20-12).
Fiji Bati produced their first rugby league superstar after winger Noa Nadruku joined the Canberra Raiders and in 1993 became the top try-scorer in the Australian competition.
Fiji took part in their first World Cup in 1995 where, just as the 2000 World Cup, they had the misfortune of being placed in the same pool as hard-hitting rivals, England and Australia. The Batis, relentless as they were, made a massive impression in their opening World Cup game in which they ran riot against South Africa, 52-6, and had the crowd on their feet. The Fiji team (with just seven players, and no reserves) was comprised entirely of Fiji rugby union internationals: Noa Nadruku, Pauliasi Tabulutu, Pio Kubuwai, Etuate Waqa, Alevereti Dere, Nemani Matirewa and Acura Niuqila.
Today approximately 500 Fijians play Rugby League. The domestic competition is known as the Vodafone Championship Cup with 12 clubs competing. There is also a Vodafone Super Six competition with combined teams and a State of Origin match. Four clubs have Juniors ranging from Under 13 to Under 19 and the game is played in four schools. Fiji qualified for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup after finishing 2nd in the Pacific qualifying tournament behind Tonga. Fiji's qualification campaign began with an upsetting 30-28 loss to Samoa before turning the tables a few days later with a thrilling 30-28 win over the Tongans. Fiji won their final qualifying game against Cook Islands 40-4. The Vodafone Fiji Bati team started their Rugby League World Cup 2008 campaign with a striking 42-6 win over France and was placed 4th by the end of the competition. The Vodafone Fiji Bati is comprised of Australian and English based players as well as top players from the local competition.