Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Corp;
Members of the Sporting Fraternity;
Coach Ben Gollings and Team Officials of our Cape Town Sevens Rugby World Cup Team;
Captain Waisea Nacuqu and our Sevens Rugby World Champions;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls and fellow Fijians.
Miau Sa Bula Re and a very good morning to you all!
On behalf of a proud and grateful nation, it is my honour to officially welcome home our Rugby Sevens World Champions: Your Fiji Airways Flying Fijians! Today we celebrate not one but two victories. It was only one year ago that this Fiji Sevens side came home draped in Gold Medals from the Tokyo Olympics. Since that unforgettable win, our pandemic restrictions have lifted, our recovery is underway, and we can finally celebrate the double victory these champions have delivered for Fiji. For almost two decades we have waited for the Melrose Cup to come home –– today that wait is over. And with its arrival at our shores we can confidently say what we’ve all known in our hearts to be true: That this is the greatest rugby team in the world. Their determination, their perseverance, and their sacrifices have written each of them into world rugby history.
On the subject of history, we have a legend among us who deserves a special acknowledgement. Jerry Tuwai departed Fiji for South Africa having already compiled the most impressive career of any sevens rugby player: Olympic Golds, World Series Titles, and the award for Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade. Only one jewel was missing in his crown of achievements –– this Melrose Cup. And side-by-side with his teammates, he’s finally won it. Congratulations, Jerry. And for what feels like the millionth time, thank you. Your tenacity and humility make you more than an athlete for your country –– you are a role model to your fellow players and to the thousands of girls and boys across our islands who love this beautiful game. We saw that clearly once again when, before celebrating victory, you helped lead an injured Lewis Ormond from a talented and competitive New Zealand sides off the field. I also commend Head Coach Ben Gollings, Captain Waisea, and the team officials for your commitment and unfaltering faith in  the boys that led to this momentous moment –– Vinaka vakalevu, Coach! Vinaka, Captain!
Boys, your win made a powerful statement to the world that Fiji is back and we are better than ever. Your fellow Fijians here at home are sending that same message every day through the pace of our economic recovery. We are a far safer country today for having charted our way through the pandemic together. As we continue our recovery, your win has lifted our spirits and strengthened our resolve to achieve a record-breaking year of economic growth. As the old adage goes: ‘A setback is merely a setup for a comeback’, and comeback we have. You can see it in every smile in this stadium.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I want to also congratulate the Fiji Airways Fijiana 7s  team for their bronze medal victory at the Olympics and their 5th place finish in the World Cup. Your stellar play has made your team one of the most exciting stories to follow in the world of sports. We know your best is yet to come! My fellow Fijians, we are a nation of less than one million people, yet we stand toe-to-toe with larger countries in the world of rugby and we are a global leader on the causes that matter most to the world. We are a nation that punches above its weight in everything that we aim to do, as rugby gladiators, as peacekeepers, and as leaders on climate change and ocean preservation. And we celebrate your wins knowing that they mean that anything and everything is possible for our great country when our people unite in pursuit of greatness. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, as we celebrate our Sevens World Champions today with a march through Suva, it would not be complete without a token to cement our appreciation of the team and their gallant efforts. So today, it is a great honour and privilege as President of the Republic of Fiji to hand over $10,000 each to every team player and also to management. A cash prize from the nation to recognise this great achievement.
May the Almighty continue to bless Fiji and each of us. Vinaka Vakalevu and Thank you all