By Alipate J Pareti The hopes and blessings 900-thousand Fijians were pinned on the wings of the Fiji Airways' Airbus 330 jet when it took off from Nadi International Airport for its non-stop flight to Japan today. Among the passengers on Flight FJ931 bound for Narita International were the 31-strong Flying Fijian squad, together with their supporting officials; coaches, trainers, analysts, and physiotherapists. The early arrival in Japan will help the team acclimatise and prepare for their first match on 21 September against Australia's Wallabies in Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido in northern Japan. This is one day after the opening of the Rugby World Cup, planned in Tokyo Stadium. The opening ceremony will also feature the game between world cup host Japan and Russia. Both teams are in Pool A, together with Ireland, Scotland and Samoa. Fiji's Dominiko Waqaniborotu-captained side has clearly opted for a quiet outing in the lead up to the world tournament, but we cannot say the same for our rival neighbours of Samoa and Tonga. Both the Manu Samoa and the Ikale Tahi are playing two test matches against the Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks respectively this weekend. The ABs of course are the reigning World Cup champions. Tonga's Ikale Tahi are taking them on, despite going down to Fiji last weekend in Auckland's Eden Park, 19 to 29. Tonga is in Pool C at the rugby world cup in Japan, together with England, France, Argentina and USA. Fiji on the other hand shares Pool D with Australia, Wales, Georgia and Uruguay.
Here is the schedule of our Pacific teams' games in Japan:
21 Sep - Fiji v Australia 22 Sep -Tonga v England 24 Sep - Samoa v Russia 25 Sep - Fiji v Uruguay 28 Sep - Tonga v Argentina 30 Sep - Samoa v Scotland 3 Oct - Fiji v Georgia 5 Oct - Samoa v Japan 6 Oct - Tonga v France 9 Oct - Fiji v Wales 12 Oct - Samoa v Ireland 13 Oct - Tonga v USA
19,20 Oct – Quarter Finals
26, 27 Oct – Semi Finals
2 Nov – Grand Final
For more, log onto: www.rugbyworldcup.com