As the BNZ Crusaders prepare to face the Chiefs in Suva tomorrow night, they have received an update on the money they helped to raise for Fiji in 2016.  

When Cyclone Winston hit the island of Fiji in February last year, players in the BNZ Crusaders team took on the task of raising funds to help Fijians get back on their feet.  The Crusaders auctioned four jerseys after the 2016 opening round of Super Rugby against the Chiefs: the actual jerseys worn by Nemani Nadolo, Ben Volavola and Jone Macilai, and a fourth team jersey signed by the entire BNZ Crusaders squad.   The jerseys were embroidered with the message Noqu kalou, Noqu vanua (which is a common Fijian saying meaning Our God, Our Land).

Further fundraising included a coin collection at the opening game, and a collection amongst the team and BNZ Crusaders staff. $7,700 was raised, which was donated to the Foundation for the Education of Needy Children in Fiji (FENC Fiji) with a request that it be used for the cyclone-ravaged Vanua Levu island, where Fijian player Jone Macilai is from.

13718499 399602230164128 3825262104402609518 nThe BNZ Crusaders received correspondence from FENC Fiji today confirming that the money has been spent on providing school packs to students at Solevu Primary School and Solevu Secondary School in the province of Bau on Vanua Levu island.  

52 of the student packs – each containing two school uniforms, a school bag, a pair of sandals and exercise books – were provided to students in 2016, and a further 20 packs in 2017 using the remaining funds.

FENC Fiji National Coordinator, John Tuiono, said the packs had put smiles on the faces of many students in this relatively poor area of Fiji: "As an organisation that works with less fortunate children we depend mainly on donors and fundraising to ensure that we continue to assist these less fortunate children and keep the organization running…Your kind gesture also gives us lots of encouragement for this course, to raise fund for children of families who are unable to provide even basic education to give them a chance for a brighter future education.”

BNZ Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said it was wonderful news to receive while the team is over in Fiji: “The BNZ Crusaders have a strong connection with Fiji.  We have an amazing fan base over here and have had many well-loved Fijian players wear the Crusaders received 10213061964488252jersey over the years.  So it was natural that the team felt compelled to help when news of Cyclone Winston hit last year.  It is great to hear that the funds raised have been able to provide some truly useful assistance to many young Fijians, and it is especially nice to hear the news while we are over here among the friendly Fijian people.”

The BNZ Crusaders and Chiefs will kick off their 13th round Super Rugby match in the Fijian capital at 7:35pm on Friday.