The mood in the city of Suva this morning was somber with the grey clouds and rain confirming the feeling of failure and mourning after the Flying Fijians shock 27-30 loss to Uruguay at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium two days ago.
Gone were most of the blue flags which fluttered from over 50 percent of cars heading for work on Wednesday morning.
Most of the car windows wound up as if to shut out possible intruders who would shatter the feelings of doom and gloom after Fiji’s heroes came up short against a team; 10 ranks lower in the official World Rugby rung.
The feelings of sadness and coldness hung around the majority of commuters heading for their work places, hoping for a better outcome for the rest of the day and week; with Fiji’s next match on Thursday.
The Flying Fijians had left Fiji’s shores early on in the month with so much fanfare and pride riding on the high hopes of a rugby mad nation that maybe, just maybe this would be the year that the best prepared team would bring glory to the nation.
After the start of the last quarter of that match on Wednesday afternoon with the scores at 17-27 with Fiji behind; where most of the workforce witnessed after they left their work places early to watch in their living rooms glued to the TV for the live telecast on Fiji One, the reality of the loss was beginning to unfold.
20 minutes left and still it seemed like all of Fiji offensives where formerly the players would easily score tries was found wanting, feelings of despair and panic started engulfing the fans.
The Uruguayans who had come prepared and focused on upsetting Fiji seemed to witness the ball and positive plays gravitate towards them; and the South Americans lapped up the attention and euphoria of victory with glee as the minutes ticked off with the points well in their favour.
Within 10 minutes as Fiji coach John McKee directed six changes; Campese Ma’afu replacing Eroni Mawi; Lepani Botia in for Filipo Nakosi; Vere Vogakoto subbing Mesulame Dolokoto; Tevita Cavubati coming in for Tevita Ratuva, Leeroy Atalifo for Manasa Saulo and Samuel Matavesi replacing Mosese Voka.
As the fresh troops arrived the hopes of the nation rose and fell as the enthusiasm and rush by the Uruguayans kept fending off the attacks by the Fijians.
A successful penalty by Uruguayan Berchesi Pisano in the 75th minute putting them eight points clear with the writing on the wall of imminent defeat unless Fiji scored twice to bridge the gulf; the panic started setting in for the players and the fans 7500 kilometres apart.
Mistakes kept creeping in for Fiji one after another which the Los Teros utilized to their advantage.
Individual brilliance by halfback Nikola Matawalu raised some hope after his try in the 66th and 81st minutes but it was too little too late as the final gong sounded for the end of the match with the Uruguayans remostrating around the park with weeping and celebration.
Most of the Fijian fans seem locked in with the feelings of submission to the obvious ultimate outcome of defeat currently but as very few taxis this morning displayed proudly with their fluttering flags adorning the sides of their vehicles, a little glimmer of hope.
There’s the extremes in the mood swings with a social media clip revealing a fully grown i Taukei man weeping openly refusing to be comforted sobbing uncontrollably after the match in his living room; while others go about their day oblivious to the rugby fans’ feelings of mourning.
The outcome of Sunday’s pool D matches with Uruguay and Georgia; as well as the seeded teams Wales and Australia will provide glimmers of hope or possibly seal Fiji’s fate for a quick return home in a fortnight.