Sireli Bobo, player for the Racing Metro - "Discovering Fiji’s Rugbymen in France"
Date of birth: 28/01/1976
Place of birth: Nawairuku, Ra.
Marital Status: Married.
Sireli Bobo was born in Nawairuku, in Ra’s Province, on January 28th, 1976. From a humble family, he started rugby at 9 years old. After playing for several local clubs like Vatukoula Old Boys or Red-Rock Qauia, he became a professional player in 2003. His French career started in 2005, in Biarritz. In 2007, he joined the Racing Metro 92 Paris, where he plays as wing.
The Racing Metro, created in 1882, is a club of the Top 14 French Premier League. It won five France Championships titles, one Pro D2 title and one Espérance’s Cup. The players, who don sky blue and white, are nicknamed "The Racingmen" or "The blues, whites, skies".
Discover Sireli Bobo’s exclusive interview:
Q: Can you tell us briefly about your rugby career? (Your progress through to where you are now)
My passion for rugby grew when I played in 1997 for my Village team in a 7s tournament in which I was eventually selected by the-then Fiji 7s coach, Rupeni Ravonu, to be in the Fiji 7s squad. I moved on to play for some overseas 7s tours with my local rugby club, Red-Rock Qauia so started off with my overseas trade in Portugal. I am forever thankful to God for the talent that he has blessed me with that has enabled me to play the sport that I love in some big rugby clubs in the world, playing beside and against some great rugby legends whom I have always heard of when I was a little boy and at the moment am trying to finish off professionally on a good note for nearly 6 years now in Racing metro 92.
Q: What was the “triggering factor” that made you decide to go to France ? How did you manage to find (contact) a club in France?
I had not dreamed or expected to play in France. However, whilst in Italy, I was invited to a World Barbarian game in London where a rugby agent found me and eventually got me a contract to play in Biarritz, and that is how my rugby in France started off.
Q: What has changed in your life since you started playing professionally?
I was brought up single-handedly by my Mum. We were a very poor family and had nothing much to live on. Life back then was very difficult for us. So, playing rugby professionally has helped and enabled me to change that situation around from a very poor and less-fortunate one. Now, I am able to repay back my Mum all the sacrifices that she had done for me and making sure that my family never have to go through that hard-life again.
Q: Did you find it easy, as a newcomer, to settle in with the rest of your team mates? To settle in France ?
Not really, playing in other overseas clubs before coming to France had helped me a lot in mingling with other players and also there were a lot of foreign players too, particularly from NZ, Samoa, Tonga that I had known and played with, years before coming to France. So, it wasn’t a problem after all.
Q: When you first arrived in France, what shocked or surprised you the most?
Language and the weather... very cold!
Q: What do you think are the biggest differences between living in Fiji and living in France ?
The weather, living situations and life-styles, people. For eg, In Fiji on a Sunday, you will always find closed-shops in most places and empty towns... in most places in France, its always vice-versa!
Q: Is your family with you in France ? If not, how often do you visit them?
Yes, they are.
Q: How do you stay in touch with your loved ones back home in Fiji ?
Through telephone and skype.
Q: Why did you decide to come and play in France ?
To further and better my rugby skills and it was financially way better than where I was playing before.
Q: What do you like most about France ?
France, in my opinion, is a very beautiful, sophisticated and independant Country which has some of the world’s most beautiful monuments and historical sites. I also like the fact that it has less sky-scrapers compared to most other countries I’ve been to.
Q: What do you miss the most?
Local foods and laid-back life-style. Most importantly for me, waking up on a Sunday in Fiji, you see everyone making their way to church.
Q: Most memorable match moment as a player?
Winning the Melrose Cup(7s) in Hong Kong in 2005 and also winning the French Top 14 shield for Biarritz in 2006.
Q: Most memorable moment as a spectator?
None for rugby but seeing my elder son play his first football game and scoring their winning goal, that was memorable enough for me.
Q: Favourite rugby player?
The 7s legend, Waisale Serevi.
Q: Favourite team?
Q: How are you coping with your fame as an overseas professional rugby player?
I guess it has its ups and downs, but its how you handle it inside of you that can affect your life either in a good or bad way. I love what I am doing, earning a good living through playing the Sport that I love and am passionate about and at the same time, trying to be careful that I live my life as normal as possible and not to let my "fame" control me.
Q: When your overseas rugby career ends, would you consider returning to play for Fiji ?
Yes, if my body still enables me to. The feeling and honour of playing for your National Country is always incomparable.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Managing our Restaurant, helping my wife in her clothes shop, coaching and helping in spreading the gospel and winning soulds to Jesus. God bless you all.
Q: Who inspires you the most?
My elder brother Amoni Vuru, My local coach Lote Rasiga, a former coach Simon Mannix who was a good Mentor, My local church Pastor and his wife, Pst Atu and Raijeli Vulaono and not forgetting my wife who has been beside me all the way.
Q: We hear many sports people have a lucky charm (special shorts, etc) or even a special ritual they use/do before a big game; do you have one? If yes, what is it?
No, all I do is pray before every game.
Sireli Bobo’s career :
Fijian clubs :
1994-1997 Vatukoula Old Boys
1998-2003 Suva Rugby Union, Red-Rock Qauia et Tailevu Rugby Union.
International clubs :
1998-1999 Cascais (Portugal)
2000-2001 Madrid (Spain),
2003-2004 Wellington (NZ),
2004-2005 Overmach Parma (Italy),
2005-2007 Biarritz (France)
2007 to present Racing Metro 92 Paris (France)
International career :
11 selections - Fidji 7
3 selections - Pacific Islanders
1 World Cup (2007)
2009 : Champion of France Pro D2 -Racing Metro 92
2006 : Champion of France – Biarritz Olympique
2005 : World’s Champion - Rugby 7
Racing Metro 92 website