Why Fijian Rugby Sevens fans cling to that rare banknote during the Olympics


Some hid it in their wallet. Many think it is a lucky charm. Others have even created shrines for the object.

The world’s only $ 7 banknote was issued by Fiji four years ago to commemorate the rugby-loving country’s first Olympic medal, when its men’s rugby sevens team won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Janeiro.

Ahead of the Flying Fijians’ second appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, and as the Pacific nation battles a raging COVID-19 outbreak, owners have shown the money in hopes the team can again go down in history.

Saula Sovanivalu is the proud owner of five $ 7 bills and fondly remembers his homeland’s historic victory in 2016.

Fijian rugby players show off their gold medals after beating Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.(

AP: Robert F. Bukaty


He believes the banknotes are good luck and said his wallet has never been empty since he started collecting them.

“The first note I received was from a taxi driver, he gave me $ 7 change,” he said.

“I asked if it was a real ticket or a fake, and he said ‘It’s true’ and I kept it as a memento.”

He received his fifth grade this week from his daughter.

Sovanivalu said winning the 2016 Games symbolized so much for the country and seeing Fiji succeed in Tokyo would be inspiring again.

“It would bring a lot of hope, a lot of positive mood for people to continue the fight against COVID-19 and get vaccinated so that we can get back to normal,” he said.

Fiji has produced 2 million copies of the commemorative note, which can be used as legal tender in Fiji.

Fans greet the Fiji Olympic gold medalist men's rugby sevens team.
Fans salute Fiji’s Olympic gold medalist men’s rugby sevens on their return from Rio.(

AFP: Feroz Khalil


On the one hand, he presents the winning team with gold medals around their necks, and on the other, former captain Osea Kolinisau and then head coach Ben Ryan.

Ryan, an English rugby union coach who also has his face stamped on a commemorative 50-cent coin, said it was “breathtaking” to be celebrated in this way.

Like many Fijians, the former Flying Fijians head coach is also keeping the ticket and the good luck coin, and said they will be with him as he watches the team compete in Tokyo.

“It will be in my pocket during the seven-a-side tournament – I wish the team the best and give everything they have.”

Rare note cherished around the world

The man is smiling while holding up the blue ticket.
Isireli Vulaca got her $ 7 bill signed by head coach Ben Ryan after Fiji’s historic victory at the Olympics.(



An uncirculated $ 7 bill can be bought for around $ 20 to $ 75 online, but for many of its collectors, the shiny rectangles of blue plastic are priceless.

Isireli Vulaca, another proud owner of the $ 7 note, said the gold medal won in 2016 brought hope to Fiji after the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

He also hopes for a good performance in Japan.

Man in white t-shirt holds up a blue banknote.
American Tom Courtight says the note reminds him of his time in Fiji.(



Tom Courtright was volunteering with the Peace Corps in Sabeto, Fiji when the national team won gold in Rio.

He is currently in Kenya and carries the note in his wallet to represent the love he feels for the Pacific country wherever he goes.

“There are many ways to feel at home in some places, but the way I feel at home in Fiji, I have never felt it elsewhere,” he said.

“Rugby is something that is global, and Fiji is the best in the world – that’s why I’m carrying it.”

Wooden bowl with blue note, behind on the wall a painting.
Keryn Clark created a “sanctuary” on her fireplace for the note.(



Now living in Sydney, Keryn Clark grew up in Fiji and made a “sanctuary” for his grade.

When the note was posted, her mother grabbed a lot for the family.

“I keep it on my fireplace sitting in a little tanoa [kava bowl] under a beautiful painting of the Suva markets, ”she said.

Lepani Temo, in New Zealand, also keeps his $ 7 bill in his wallet, but plans to frame it and hang it on the wall.

“It means gold to me,” he said.

“As soon as I saw it, I told myself that it will be something that will be cherished through the generations.

The man and the young boy hold the edges of the note as they sit on a sofa.
Rugby fan Lepani Temo believes the note will be valuable for generations to come.(



The Fijian men’s rugby sevens team travel to Tokyo after an unbeaten streak at last month’s Oceania 7 competition in Townsville – an impressive feat considering they hadn’t played a game in over a year. year due to the pandemic.

Many fans believe the team has what it takes to make it to Japan.

“I think Fiji will come back with a second gold medal for rugby – I expect another issue of $ 7 for the second gold medal,” Sovanivalu said.

The ABC has asked the Fijian government if it plans to release another commemorative note following the Flying Fijians’ performance in Tokyo.

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