The Flying Fijians run onto the pitch at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin against the All Blacks at 7.05 pm tomorrow with the words ‘Vaccinate Fiji’ emblazoned across the front of their jerseys to encourage Fijians to get vaccinated.
In consultation with major sponsors Fiji Airways, Fiji Rugby said the message befits the occasion – marking their first match-up against the ABs in 10 years at a time when the country is battling the second wave of COVID-19 that, in three months, has infected close to 9,000 people, 65 of whom died.
“Our Flying Fijians will proudly carry on this message in the two games to encourage our people to get fully vaccinated to win the fight against COVID-19. Reaching vaccination targets will help our medical authorities save lives, restore lost freedoms and allow the country to return to a new kind of normal,” Fiji Rugby Union CEO John O’Connor said.
“Both Fiji Rugby and our biggest partners Fiji Airways recognise that our responsibility towards the wellbeing of the Fijian people extends beyond the pitch. We are humbled and delighted that our National Airline has given up their prime ‘front of jersey’ space in this test series for the greater good, replacing their own brand with the message: ‘Vaccinate Fiji’.
Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO stated: “Some things are just more important and it is crucial right now for Fiji to recognise that vaccination offers a real lifeline in the current circumstances. So we thought what better way to spread the word than by replacing our branding with a message to help vaccinate Fiji.”
Flying Fijians Head Coach Vern Cotter added: “Our Fijian rugby players are famed at home and the world over. They inspire Fijians of all ages and are honoured to carry forward a message that will help our people and our country emerge from the COVID crisis. Normally we would see fans flying to watch the team play anywhere, but most fans are missing out on this historical match against the All Blacks because of restrictions in place. We hope Fijians choose to fully vaccinate so they can get back to supporting their favourite teams in person in any country.”
The second Test takes place next week in Hamilton.