Born in Bua, Fiji on 27 December 1978, Seru was an only child to his Mum and Dad who later remarried with children and was raised by his grandma who he referred to as his idol from 3 months to 19 years until she passed in 2000. Seru was fortunate to be schooled at Fiji’s largest all boys boarding school, Ratu Kadalevu (RKS), with a strong rugby focus. Seru went on to study at Lautoka Teachers College whilst playing provincial rugby for Lautoka and then later completed his University degree at Otago, New Zealand.
The Fiji rugby legend, Seru Rabeni was one of the hardest tackling players of his era that earned him the nickname Rambo. He was built like a forward possessing a devastating mix of power and pace, as well as being a great stepper and midfield powerhouse in general. Seru made his debut in Sevens for Fiji and went on to earn 30 caps for Fiji scoring 10 points, and also represented the Pacific Islanders combined international team that played from 2004 to 2008. He later played for the Barbarians in 2011 and the Asia Pacific Barbarians in 2012. In top-flight Club Rugby, Seru played in New Zealand, England and France during a 16-year playing career that included a five-year spell at Leicester Tigers. In his last 2 years, he assumed the role of Assistant Coach in the US and Head Coach/Player in Hong Kong.
Seru’s personal long-term objective was to finish his Masters in Sports Marketing & Business Management that he started as a distance-learning student with the University of Central Lancashire, UK when he moved to Hong Kong in 2014:
“I can not only help out my community, but further my help and experience to the local Fiji Rugby Union who are dying to have someone who not only played the game at the highest level, but also has the education credentials to take Fiji Rugby into the future”.
Fiji remained close to Seru’s heart where he supported rugby players from his village in Fiji through founding and funding a Rugby 7s team Nasolo Young Boys, and hosting an annual Rugby tournament the Rabeni 7s. The Team comprised unemployed youth from Seru’s community living in the city to play rugby with the goal to train them to a level where they could be noticed by national selectors, and be selected by other top teams whilst providing them with work. His goal was to place them on a footstool to a better life and his ultimate dream was to open a Pacific Island Rugby Academy, so as the players with potential would have the proper coaching and facilities they desperately need to close the big gap he observed with the professional rugby players.
Given the limited opportunities, Seru transformed his own home in Nausori effectively into a ‘rugby camp’ for the Nasolo Young Boys and set up a transport business with the opportunity for some of the village boys to be drivers. His objective was for the business to be self-sufficient to support his extended family in Fiji that included the village boys, and free Seru to focus on his international career. Discovery Bay Pirates set-up a Chief Rugby Officer position sponsored by HKRFU for the 2015-16 season, but due to ongoing financial issues with the transport business, Seru was held up in Fiji and could not assume the post.
Seru unexpectedly passed on the morning of 15 March 2016 whilst he was having breakfast with the village boys staying with him in his Nausori home. He died from heart failure - suspected viral cardiomyopathy. Late 2015, he developed flu symptoms in Fiji alongside shortness of breath and chest pains but brushed the symptoms off as flu. His passing coincided with the week he planned to return to Hong Kong for the HK 10s and 7s where he lined up corporate speaking events including Toll Global Forwarding (sponsor of the Nasolo Kindergarten project – see Seru Fund).
The 2007 gallant Flying Fijians Team players who helped defeat Wales and took the Springboks to the wire in the Quarter Finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup:
Seru Rabeni 1978-2016
Maleli Kunavore 1983-2012
Jone Railomo 1981-2009