Greater than a game: 7s about more than rugby for fans of Fiji
Fiji won last year's Canada Sevens and 2 other tournament stops this season
Canada is the home team at BC Place during the Canada Sevens rugby tournament, but for fans of Fiji, the two-day event is about more than the games on the pitch.
"It's a culture. It's a religion in Fiji," said Bobby Naicker, the country's honorary consul in Canada.
Sevens rugby is a faster version of 15 a side rugby.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens series consists of 10 tournaments held around the world, in which national sevens teams compete for series points at each tournament.
An overall champion is crowned at the end of the season based on points accumulated throughout the 10 events.
'Pride in our team'
The stop in Vancouver has given Fijians living in North America a rare chance to show their national pride and cheer for a winning team at a major sporting event.
"Once a year we get together and really show Canada and the rest of the world that there are Fijians here as well and take pride in our team." he said.
Naicker explained the country hasn't had many sporting heroes to look to, with the most prominent being golfer and three-time major winner Vijay Singh.
"I'm not even sure you call it a sport," said Naicker of rugby. "When the sevens team is playing, everything stops in Fiji."
Fiji fans ready for their team's opener at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canada7s?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Canada7s</a> <a href="https://t.co/l4zTZ8GeX7">pic.twitter.com/l4zTZ8GeX7</a>—@TheMatthewBlack
Fiji's team has given its rugby fans plenty to cheer about in recent years.
In 2016, it became the inaugural gold medallist at rugby sevens' Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro. The rugby-mad country even launched a seven-dollar bill in honour of the triumph.
Last year, the Fiji sevens beat Kenya in the final in Vancouver, one of five tour wins last season, and the first of four straight.
"It was pandemonium," said supporter Samuel Pratap. "Fiji fans are the craziest."
"Fiji always puts on a show whether it's on the pitch or in the stands."
The team narrowly finished behind South Africa in the 2018 final Sevens Series standings.
This season, the team has captured two titles on the World Rugby Sevens Series tour, winning in both South Africa and New Zealand.
Back in Vancouver, the team is once again among the favourites to win the Canada Sevens, but fell to the Canadians in a first round game Saturday.
"We're kind of torn," said Pratap.
The team bounced back with wins over Samoa and Kenya to top the pool and will play New Zealand in Sunday's quarter-final, a game their rabid fans expect them to win.
"We're going to take it home," said Pratap.