By Guest Writer, STEVE REID
Fiji Rugby Blog was rated number 35 in the world’s largest blogging service WordPress last week in their fastest growing category, recognizing the visionary efforts of the local blog site.
This is a remarkable achievement spurred by the creative juices of local sports writer Rusiate Mataika and internationally renowned but locally based web design firm Webmedia Fiji.
The blog has shot like a rocket out of the gates and in its first month garnered over 5000 visits, and things just seem to keep on getting bigger and better.
“WordPress has 1.3 million blogs, and to rank this highly, this fast…well, it’s an amazing vindication for those who do not feel that Fiji Rugby has a position in the international arena,” says Mataika.
The blog has thus far received a tremendous response from sponsors, open support from the Fiji Rugby Union and is deep in the process of establishing an entire new type of IT marriage with the Suva Rugby Union and Webmedia.
“Webmedia sure knows rugby and they are working hard with Suva Rugby on establishing so many innovative programs,” Mataika said.
“We’re talking about amazing stuff that will carry us boldly to an international audience and it’s all happening just as they predicted.
“They’ve already done this with international companies as big as a billion dollar US, but it’s the first time they’ve applied it to the local sports world,” described Mataika.
The Fiji Rugby Blog is going through radical changes. Already engaging some of Webmedia skilful and innovative traffic building techniques, the blog has an extraordinary mix of world wide and local audience viewership.
The site has both fans and dissenters alike.
Notable Fiji Rugby broadcasting legend Graham Eden responded to one article with an absolutely scathing reply, that visitors can see posted online in its entirety.
Mataika then graciously made a request to Mr. Eden for more details on his assertions and even championed for an open forum type discussion online where more of the venerable broadcaster’s in-depth knowledge could be shared.
Sadly, Mr. Eden has thus far opted out on the opportunity to venture further into the electronic world of rugby blogging.
The blog gives new meaning to the word ‘kinetic’. A recent online comment from one of Fiji’s finest, Joji Brown who is currently peacekeeping in Basra, Iraq has led Mataika to learn more about how ‘the boys’ deal with sports and rugby overseas.
He is currently preparing a detailed questionnaire to send to Mr. Brown to determine more about how cultures in a war zone can merge through sports.
Comments have often led to new stories and overseas participation is where Mataika believes Fiji Rugby Blog can eventually make the most impact by bringing heightened awareness of the world of Fiji Rugby not just on an international level but on club and other levels as well.
Fans should watch for massive design changes and enhanced features appearing over the ensuing weeks. The blog as it sits right now is in the first stage of a long-term development process mapped out over months of think tank sessions.
Mataika, who previously worked fulltime as a sports writer and later applied his skills with Webmedia as a staff copywriter was increasingly finding himself ‘pining for the paddock’ as he puts it.
So the parties took to task and came up with a way that he could once again, focus on the stuff of his childhood dreams.
“I never was the best on the field, but with a pen in my hand, I always felt like I could do more for the sport.” he elaborated.
The birth of the Fiji Rugby Blog was truly a dream come true for the humble and hardworking scribe.
“This vision has been in place from the beginning and I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but I can tell you that this will be a super interactive and highly dynamic portal”
As a preview Mataika did reveal that international feeds are being added, that sponsorship is pouring in and that clinics are most definitely in the pipeline.
“If we do not get this all down to the grass roots then the Fiji Rugby Blog is ultimately doing a disservice to this community,” Mataika said.
“We want to take Rugby in every form, from the pitch to the Web, and make sure that our young players are going to benefit.
“It’s all about the people and in creating a greater ‘Fiji Rugby Nation’ because in my heart I believe that one day Fiji can truly be World Champions in the 15s code.”
Caption: Junior All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan sends out a pass in a match against Fiji at the national stadium in Suva last month. Photo: GREG TAYLOR