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The Silicon Valley Sevens scheduled for November 4 and 5 in San Jose's Avaya Stadium brings international sevens to the Bay Area. It also will mark the first time since 2007 that Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga will compete in the same tournament on American soil.
At first glance, it seems an incongruity in sport history that these three small island nations play competitive rugby (World Rugby current rankings: Fiji 9, Tonga 13, and Samoa 16). The answer rests in the Pacific exploration of British ships (memorably, Captain Cook), which claimed land and territory for the crown. This explains the prominence of rugby in Australia, New Zealand, the three Island countries, and even the Cook Islands, all with long-standing British political and cultural heritage.
Even today, the Union Jack flies in the canton (upper left area) of the flag of Fiji. Up to 1940, Samoa also displayed the Union Jack, which also appears on the Aussie and Kiwi national flags.
But with limited populations, sevens programs succeeded for Fiji and Samoa with superior international accomplishment. Also, especially for Fiji, sevens rugby lent itself to the dynamic, fancy passing offloads that characterize the open style of Island sevens’ play.
In the past eighteen World Rugby Sevens series, Fiji have finished in the top four spots all eighteen times, winning three titles. In addition, the Fijians won the first Rugby Sevens Olympic gold medal in 2016 in Rio, that nation's first Olympic gold.
Samoa have finished in the top six annual circuit placements on fifteen occasions, winning one title. Tonga competed in four of the five World Cup Sevens events, and are annual competitors in the Hong Kong Sevens.
In the upcoming Silicon Valley Sevens, the three teams start out in different pools, and all have the possibilty to advance into the next round. Perhaps then, fans will see the exciting clash of rugby rivals from the Pacific Islands.