The all-conquering Wardens rugby club has accepted an invitation to play in the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens at Swangard Stadium next month.
The club, which won the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in 2011, is expected to include current and former Fijian players when it lines up against 12 other international teams in Canada's largest sevens tournament on July 21.
Coach Timoci Wainiqolo will call on Joji Ragamate, Ilai Tinai, Lepani Botia and Niko Verekauta, who were all part of Fiji's winning team in London last month, as well as former national representative Api Naiyabo (captain).
"We are finalising visas and other matters before we release the team but it will be our strongest available line-up," said Wainiqolo who took the team to a 26-19 win over Police in Sigatoka in November. "We are excited at the prospect of meeting teams from all over the world and are grateful to the organisers for inviting us to represent Fiji."
The Wardens' appearance is the start of a relationship between the two fast-growing events. Waisale Serevi, whose name anoints the tournament, said, "I am thrilled to welcome the Wardens, not only because they hail from my native Fiji, but also because their participation speaks to the growth of this tournament and the progress of rugby in North America."
The Serevi Vancouver International Sevens, presented by WINGS pubs and restaurants, will be played at the 5,200-seat Swangard Stadium.
Chairman Netani Gucake says Rugby Sevens has seen a significant increase in interest in Canada since it was added to the program for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the presence of the Wardens will help to raise the tournament's profile even further.
"We are growing the tournament to include some other teams we haven't been able to get in previous years, and a champion team from Fiji is a big boost for us," Gucake said. "The bigger goal is to have Vancouver as one of the key sanctioned events with the IRB - we all have dreams and we hope one day we will be able to attract 80,000 people as that's the number Hong Kong attracts every year."
With a month to go before the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens the excitement is building.
England's Ben Gollings, the record IRB point scorer, is also confirmed as a guest player with Serevi's Seattle-based team, while further teams will be announced soon. Besides the international teams, the Vancouver tournament features elite men's and women's teams made up from local clubs, plus a youth division.
For further information on the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens go to www.vancouverinternationalsevens.com