Scotland to Fiji: the spread of Sevens

By tournament:

1977 Maarist Sevens

The list may be subject to change if more rugby union sevens tournaments are discovered.

History of rugby union in Fiji

Rugby Union was introduced to Fiji in the 19th century. In 1884 British and New Zealand players played Fijian soldiers at the Native Constabulary at Ba, on the island of Viti Levu.

By 1904 a league competition was set-up, largely based on colonial players. The Fijian Rugby Union was set-up in 1913. A Fiji team played the All Blacks that year, when they stopped off on their way back to New Zealand when returning from a tour in the United States. The Fiji squad was made up of all colonial players, and the match was played in Albert Park in Suva. The Fiji side was beaten 67-3, the captain and coach P.J. Sheehan scoring the side’s only try.

A group of New Zealanders came to build the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. One of them was plumber Paddy Sheehan from Dunedin — a former captain of Otago. Sheehan immediately saw the need for organisation of the then-casual Fijian rugby. He formed the Pacific Club and by the end of their first meeting three more clubs were planned and eventually formed: United Services, Cadets and Rewa. Together these clubs formed the Fiji RFU although played only in Suva. When the first officers of the Union were elected, Sheehan became chairman. Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet-Escott, the governor of the time, donated the Escott Shield for the club championship, which was won by the Pacific Club and nearly 90 years later is still competed for by Suva Union clubs.

Rugby House

The native Fijians took to the sport quickly and in 1914 they had their own native league in a segregated structure. A Fiji Native Union was affiliated to the Fiji Rugby Union in 1915.

The Fijians adopted the New Zealand rugby union rules. When a number of Australians came to Fiji in 1915 for work, it was found that their rugby union rules were different from the Fijian/New Zealand rules adopted. The Fijians asked the Australians for a copy of their rules to look at the differences.

From The Southland Times of 31 July 1915:

Maarist Sevens

From The Official History of the Melrose Sevens by Walter Allan:

The first domestic tournament did not take place until 1977 with the Maarist Sevens.

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