Fijian rugby player and coach Seru Rabeni died yesterday morning, March 15, at his home in Nausori. He was 37 years old.
The beloved athlete moved to Hong Kong for further studies in September 2014, and became a player-coach for the Discovery Bay Pirates throughout the 2014-2015 season.
Rabeni is remembered for his powerful playing style — which earned him the nickname “Rambo” — as well as his warm personality and dedication to those he coached. He began his professional career in 1998, playing provincial rugby for Lautoka while attending Lautoka Teachers College, and made his Sevens debut for Fiji in Dubai that same year.
He played for Fiji at the Hong Kong Sevens in the year 2000, time and again referring back to it as one of his favourite rugby memories.
Rabeni played in two World Cups for Fiji. He was a starter in all four of Fiji’s pool games in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and took part in all of Fiji’s 2007 World Cup matches. He earned a total of 39 international caps throughout, including nine for mixed international team the Pacific Islanders.
He had intended on returning to Hong Kong this week, and planned to compete at the GFI Rugby 10’s in April.
Steve Kean, Chairman of the Discovery Bay Pirates, attests to the impact Rabeni had left in his lifetime.
“Seru has left a deep impression on the rugby community in Discovery Bay and Hong Kong, and the world wherever rugby is played and his presence felt. In this difficult time, and for ever more we are eternally grateful for the man that was Seru Rabeni. Rest in peace, big man.”
Original photo by gepiblu (Flickr: rugby world cup 2007) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons