Fiji shock Australia 22-15 in biggest upset of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Samuel Matavesi and Albert Tuisue celebrate the historic win (Photo: World Rugby/Fiji Rugby)

Fiji have pulled off a major upset and created history with a 22-15 win over the Wallabies in Saint Etienne.

It’s their first win over the Wallabies since 1954 as they kept their World Cup hopes alive.

They started perfectly, with the boot of Simione Kuruvoli giving them a 12-8 lead at the break.

Player of the match Josua Tuisova latched onto a loose ball at the start of the second half to extend the advantage to 22-8.

Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui said: “I couldn’t be prouder’. I’m emotionally drained at the moment. Really proud of the boys. It was a great contest against a great Australian side. It was a great match – kept us guessing until the end.

I couldn’t be prouder. It’s not just today. It’s a combination of the work we’ve done since the beginning of the campaign. The boys have worked really hard and pushed them to the limit. They’ve never once complained. When you worked hard you get the results.”

“This win is incredible. It’s history and I want to thank the boys for their hard work, and giving everything they got. I told them in the second half to empty the tank, give everything they have, just try to win this game, we treated this game as a final,” said player of the match Josua Tuisova.

Captain Waisea Nayacalevu thanked God and said he was proud of the boys.

“Today we made history,” he said.

“I told the boys today is our final. Today will determine whether we want to go up to the quarters or not so our mindset was to come into this week, do-or-die so we came here to do our best, fight until the end and the result will take care of itself.”

Suliasi Vunivalu gave the Australians some hope late, only for Fiji to hang on for the victory.

“We’re very disappointed,” coach Eddie Jones said.

“We started the game very uncharacteristically not like us. We’ve been really sharp at the start of games, played with a fair bit of pace and precision and today we were sloppy.

“We had times in the game where we got on the front foot but we struggled to get on the front foot and full congratulations to Fiji, they played really well so it’s deserved victory for them.

“We’ve got some work to do for Wales.”

The Fijians brought a physical edge in trademark fashion to start the game, brutalising defenders through the likes of Tuisova and Jiuta Wainiqolo.

Ben Donaldson opened the scoring but it was Fiji that looked to tick the scoreboard over throughout the first half through the boot of scrum half Simione Kuruvoli.

Kuruvoli struck two nicely before the Australians showed great game awareness for the opening try.

It started with a Richie Arnold turnover at the breakdown before Nic White nailed a 50-22.

With Fiji walking back into defence, Samu Kerevi and Mark Nawaqanitawase combined off the quick lineout, with the winger scoring the first try of the game.

A lack of discipline continued to hurt the Wallabies, as Kuruvoli slotted penalty three and four for a 12-6 lead at the break.

Fiji started the second half as they started the first and capitalised on some miscommunication at the back, allowing Tuisova to snatch the loose ball and race away for an easy try.

From here, the Australians threw everything at the opposition line, only for Fiji to continue to win penalties at the breakdown.

The injection of Suliasi Vunivalu provided the spark needed, darting from dummy half to keep the game alive.

The Wallabies looked to tie up, twice finding space through Rob Valetini and Marika Koroibete.

However, Fiji held tough in defence to force the turnover and come away with a famous victory.

Fiji have set social media alight after a stunning performance saw them defeat Australia for the first time in 69 years, securing a 22-15 Rugby World Cup victory.

Current professionals, legends of the game and fans rushed to social media to congratulate the Fijians on their historic victory over Eddie Jones’ side.

Fellow Pacific Islanders were quick to praise the Fijians as Samoa and Bristol Bears flanker Steven Luatua was one of those to applaud Fiji.

“Fiji leading the way for the Pacific. Wow. @radradra_semi. Woof woof,” the Samoan posted on X, formerly Twitter.

His teammate Jordan Taufua added, “Congratulations @fijirugby what a game!!! Toso Viti Toso!”

Former Fiji wing Nemani Nadolo praised the efforts of his fellow countrymen.

“Fiji is no longer a 60min team.. they outmuscled and outclassed Australia in every area for the FULL 80mins,” his post read.

Tonga centre Malakai Fekitoa was short and sweet, posting ‘Congratulations Fiji.’

Former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams joined in the celebrations posting, “Congratulations @fijirugby! It’s been 69yrs since they last tasted victory V Australia. Bula brothers”

Williams’ post came after he wrote pre-match: “Fiji haven’t beat the Wallabies in 69 years. Is today the day?!”

Former Fiji sevens head coach Ben Ryan struggled to contain his joy in the result.

He posted: “Yessssss! Exactly what was deserved! Beautiful Viti – Totoka Levu!!!!” before posting a clip of him celebrating.

2003 Rugby World Cup-winning prop with England, Phil Vickery, gushed over the Pacific Islanders’ performance.

“I never stopped loving Fiji, but now I’m head over heals … what a wonderful moment for our game,” he posted.

Fijian Minister Pio Tikoduadua called on fans to celebrate the win but urged the public to still go to work on Monday.

His post read: “Wear something blue to work. But, go to work!”

Former Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau added: “Congrats @fijirugby.. massive result and well deserved! Next game against wales will be huge for us.”

Popular rugby columnist Paul Williams hailed Fiji’s performance, writing “Stunning from Fiji. Simply stunning.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand writer Jamie Wall poked fan at coach Jones’ decision not to select Michael Hooper in his World Cup squad, posting an image of the former Wallabies captain.

Renowned South African journalist Jon Cardinelli hailed Simon Raiwalui’s side for their opening two matches as they blew Pool C wide open.

“Glorious win for Fiji. They’ve banked 6 points from 2 toughest pool games (should have been 9 though…). Pool C set for a brutal finish. Fiji should bank maximum points v Portugal, Georgia. Wales v Aus result so crucial for Wallabies. PD may be decisive!” his post read.

Will Owen wrote: “This is the most complete Fiji team we’ve seen at a World Cup, and it gives them boundless amounts of space to do their flashy/boomfa. I’m so pleased for them.”

While Squidge Rugby added that Fiji’s win puts “Wales’ performance last week in a whole new perspective.”

Sam Larner said that it was a big win for Fiji, even if it didn’t feel like an upset.

“Massive result that for Fiji, even if it never really felt like an upset. Fiji in control for so much of it. Australia looked dreadful. Fiji advancing here would be exceptional and I’d say they were 7/10 there. I’m longing for a 10/10 Fiji performance just once….,” he wrote.

ABC Journalist Lice Movono summed it up brilliantly.

“Vacava ga ni ratou sa soccer tu in the second half!!! Beautiful, emotional and such a well-deserved win. Fiji beats Australia, after 69 years,” she wrote.

FIJI 22

TRIES: Tuisova

CONS: Kuruvoli 1/1, Lomani 1/2

PENS: Kuruvoli 4/4, Lomani 0/1

WALLABIES 15

TRIES: Nawaqanitawase, Vunivalu

CONS: Donaldson 0/1

PENS: Donaldson 1/1

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