Camborne, Cornwall, Fiji, in that order

By Elliott Trotman |

From Camborne town to the Rugby World Cup, Sam Matavesi’s rise to the top has been an exceptional journey. The 28-year-old Fijian International sat down at his home club of Cambourne R.F.C to talk all things rugby but first, it was all about Cornwall.

Cornwall as a county can be described as many things but for Sam, three words described it best. “Home, beautiful, and passion – Cornish people are definitely passionate!”. This came from a ‘passionate’ Matavesi, for whom it was obvious that a lot of his success had come from the ethos instilled in him by his family and local community.

The Top 14 Final in Lyon, France / Thomas Serer: Unsplash

The drive to succeed for Sam came from a very early age as he was introduced to men’s rugby as an infant. “I used to come to watch Camborne 1st team on a Saturday from the age of four, watching the likes of Kenny Fisilau of Tonga play and Sebastian Berti. Those guys were my heroes.”

Sam didn’t just go on to play for Camborne, he went one further and represented Cornwall at county level. Talking about putting on the black and gold, Sam said that “it was just as important as playing for Camborne. When I was a ball boy as a kid for the Cornwall games, I used to see the boys come out the tunnel, they were superstars. For then to go on and play for Cornwall myself, something my dad did and both my brothers have, that’s special.”

Cornish rugby has a reputation that relies on its high standard and that is most likely down to the coaching. Sam spoke on the importance of age group county rugby and how it can help players transition into the next part of the game:

“It’s about expectation. Cornwall’s a rugby county and the expectations are high. The trials leading up to it, the games against other counties and specifically Devon, they prepare you for all aspects of life!”. Speaking on Devon, Sam was eager to voice his opinion on playing in the Tamar Cup once again. “If I could come back and play, 100% I would, we don’t like Devon! A Cornwall versus Devon game is just like a Fiji/Tonga game, it’s just 80 minutes of absolute war.”

Talking international rugby, Sam spoke about his career and his pride of playing for Fiji and playing with his brother. On the Flying Fijians, Sam said, “I played for Fiji twice in 2013 and if I was honest, I wasn’t ready. I was happy to be there, instead of wanting to be there.”

man holding rugby ball
Touching down for a try / Hanson Lu: Unsplash

“I played once again in 2018, following a season with the Pirates. I played against Scotland and then we went on to beat France in Paris. I worked hard for that and I got the rewards!”

“I definitely got that feeling in the World Cup, playing with my older brother. It was a dream come true.”

“We’ve got France, Italy and Scotland this coming November, it’s just another chance for me to go out and prove myself on the big stage.”

It’s clear on fan forums and a variety of social medias that Sam’s efforts are celebrated all over the county. He represents the black and gold with great integrity and the whole of Cornwall are proud of what he has achieved and what he continuously strives to do.