The government of Fiji has announced the production of the Fiji 7 dollar banknote to commemorate the tiny island nation’s 2016 Gold Medal in Rugby Sevens at the Brazil Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the achievements leading up to it. For those unfamiliar with the sport, Sevens is a variation of rugby where each side fields a team of just seven players for a short game filled with running and scoring on a wide-open field.
This blog looks at the significance of Fiji’s achievement, its tremendous pride associated with success in the recent Olympic games, and the design and features of the Fiji 7 dollar banknote.
Fiji’s Rugby Team a Source of National Pride
Rugby was popularized in Great Britain in the 1800s and spread throughout the world through Britain’s colonial influence over the last couple of centuries. The traditional rugby-playing nations are England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – Italy, Argentina, and Brazil are also active, and the game is played throughout the Pacific Islands. With a population of just under a million people, Fiji takes tremendous pride in its ability to compete with the Rugby giants of the world, especially on a stage like the Olympics.
Simply based on the talent pool available, as a function of the population, the fact that this Fijian team overcame sides from Brazil, Argentina, the USA, New Zealand, Japan and Great Britain on its way to Olympic Gold is something truly remarkable. Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji’s Prime Minister, said that the gold medal success illustrated that despite its small size, Fiji was competitive with the strongest teams in the world.
The Design of the Fiji 7 dollar banknote
The new Fiji 7 dollar banknote is designed to fully pay homage to the success of the Fijian rugby team. The obverse side of the note features Fijian rugby superstar and team captain Osea Kolinisau running at full clip with a Fijian flag in the background. Slightly offset is a depiction of coach Ben Ryan in his characteristic seated position atop a sand dune that the players used to run up and down for training before competitions.
The reverse side of the note features a massive team portrait of Fiji’s squad at the 2016 Rio Olympics, along with the text “Fiji Rugby 7s Gold Olympians”. In it, players, coaches and medical staff can be seen proudly displaying their gold medals, having won the competition, smiling, and holding up their index fingers to indicate their status as the number one team in the world.
Fiji Issues Commemorative Coin to Accompany Fiji 7 dollar banknote
In addition to the Fiji 7 dollar banknote, one million new 50-cent coins have also been issued which feature the image of their English-born coach, Ben Ryan, on one side, and the Fijian team hoisting the Olympic trophy on the reverse side. Ryan is one of the few people to have been immortalized on the currency of a nation besides the one they were born in – he tweeted a photo of the note with the comment “just shows you how much the Fijian people care and value its rugby. Awesome.”
The new Fiji 7 dollar banknote is truly unique and characteristic of a government willing to proudly express national pride through its currency. For sports fans, rugby lovers, Olympics enthusiasts, and Fijians around the world, this note is both a fantastic testament to what even the smallest nation can achieve on the global stage and a desirable collector’s item.