Bobo and you’ll miss him

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I’m not sure if Sireli Bobo was quicker on the field, or quicker to move between teams off the field as the man’s Wikipedia career path is a bit of a novel in itself.

Although he only really spent a significant amount of time with 2 of his 10+ teams, he became a fan favourite at pretty much every one of them which tells you all you need to know about his ability with a rugby ball.

His first move out of Fiji came in 1999 when he signed for Portuguese side GDS Cascais off the back of a tournament or two on the Sevens circuit. After a couple years turning out for them and travelling the world with the Fijian Sevens side he earnt a bit of a sideways move in both the geographical and skill level sense as he joined Spanish outfit UCM Canoe. He had a fairly successful time during his short stint and even grabbed himself some silverware, but it was pretty evident 7’s was going to be what would kickstart his career, so in 2003 he returned to Fiji to focus on the small sided game.

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What a decision that turned out to be, as he went on to captain the side and tear up the competition as he raced away to score 22 tries in just 3 tournaments. Just like any good scouts, the Wellington Lions had been sniffing around the talent on the 7’s scene so scooped up Bobo off the back of his rampant try scoring streak. The move back into XV’s didn’t seem to faze him either as he wreaked equally as much havoc by scoring 7 tries in his debut season. Inevitably the Hurricanes then offered him a chance to repeat his heroics at Super Rugby level in 2004, but unfortunately despite being handed 4 starts and 1 bench outing he wasn’t able to take his chances thus ending his Super Rugby career on a donut.

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He’d still committed to a second NPC season though, so Wellington got one last chance to watch the flying Fijian in action as he burst down the wing for another 5 tries. The only level left to tick off now was an international XV’s debut, which he would achieve that same year for not 1, not 2 but 3 separate teams. The first of which would be his national side, Fiji where he scored the winning try in a 27-26 victory over Tonga. Next up would be a few outings for the now defunct Pacific Islanders, whom he grabbed two tries for. His hat trick was achieved later in the year after he kitted up against international opposition once again, this time in a Barbarians jersey as they took on the All Blacks.

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2005 him begin his transition into Europe with a short stint in Italy playing for Parma. We also saw the last of Sireli on the 7’s circuit as he’d decided juggling the two forms was too much. It was his next move that would really put him on the map as one of rugby’s most exciting winger’s though as he joined Biarritz who he made 54 appearances and scored 30 tries for, including an astonishing 21 in his first season.

The conclusion of the World Cup in 2007 saw him move across to another French club in the form of Racing Metro where he arguably topped the heights he reached at Biarritz by going on to make well over 100 appearances and scoring 47 times for across a 6 year period. His time with the Paris based side also sparked one of the great post match interviews from former Saracens coach Brendan Venter who couldn’t get any words out (or more likely wasn’t allowed) other than to congratulate Bobo for his bit of magic.

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When his contract ran out in 2013, I’m sure most people would’ve expected a now 37 year old wouldn’t be able to carry on when his game was as reliant on pace and agility as it was. Bobo quickly squashed any chances of that though as he went on to make his final appearance for Fiji in 2014, becoming their oldest ever player in the process. That was only the start though as he still had another 6 clubs to go through before he would eventually call time.

The first of which would be Japanese side the Red Hurricanes who somehow managed to sign him on a 5 year deal. After just one season though he got out of the deal in order to return to the Top 14 with La Rochelle who he made 33 appearances for. He did actually attempt to hang the boots up after that, but instead ended up far from doing so as the now 39 year old was called into Top 14 giants Toulon as a medical replacement for Bryan Habana and Drew Mitchell, which shows just how much faith they had in Bobo’s aging legs.

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The recall clearly just wet his appetite again as he got in stints at two more French clubs, Pau and Strasbourg before seemingly packing it in for good in 2017. That is until he popped back up one last time in 2019 where he came off the bench for the Asia Pacific Dragons at the ripe old age of 43, before supposedly taking off the boots and switching to coaching from the sidelines.

All in all he’s had a fantastic career and sparked joy into fans across many nations so “three cheers Sireli Bobo”.

Join in the conversation

Article was published by Ben Affleck of the Forgotten Rugby Battlers Facebook Page. It’s always interesting to hear a non-Fijian view on our favourite players. Let us know what you thought of the article and Sireli Bobo in the comments below.

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