Lion Tamer, Ex-Fijian Coach Samisoni Viriviri Dies At 67

Legendary national rugby halfback and head coach, Samisoni Viriviri (Snr) has passed away. He was 67.

He died peacefully at his home in Sac­ramento, United States of America, yes­terday morning, says his son Savenaca Viriviri who resides at Dratabu Village, in Nadi.

“Yes, he passed away in his sleep,” Savenaca said.

“The family will talk about the funeral arrangements in the coming days. We moved to the United States in 1993 where he went on to coach the Sacramento Li­ons from 1994 to 2005. The club is now coached by Ifereimi Tawake.”

He is the grandfather and namesake of Olympian Samisoni Viriviri.

Viriviri (Snr) first played for Nadi in 1974 and became a coach in the 1980s.

He made his Test debut for the national rugby team against Australia, at Bris­bane, on June 9, 1976.

He was also part of the legendary 1977 Fiji XV that beat the British and Irish Li­ons 25-21 in Suva.

“My dad was born on August 15, 1953. He was born on the same day they de­feated the British Lions in Suva. It was his birthday present that day,” Savenaca added.

Viriri Snr’s final Test was against Eng­land XV, at Twickenham, on October 16, 1982.

In his career, Viriviri (Snr) played 24 Test matches, where he scored 12 points from one try, one penalty, one drop goal, and one conversion.

As a national coach between 1989-1991 including the Rugby World Cup that year in Europe.

He died at the age of 67 and survived by his two children and two grandchildren.