Facing Tomorrow Today
Future Opportunities and Challenges in Sustainable Tourism, Architecture and Rugby
Firstly I would just like to thank the FABC and Chris Andrew from Greenlight in inviting me to speak tonight and Digicel for sponsoring the dinner.
I would also like to thank, on behalf of all the Australian Super 14 players, Air Pacific and Fijian Tourism for their continued support of rugby union in Australia.
Quickly before I begin though, my plan tonight if possible, is to speak briefly about sustainability, then about rugby and then I’d be happy to open the floor to questions if there are any, where I’m pleased to discuss rugby, architecture, sustainability or anything else you wish to ask me about.
When I was approached by Chris Andrew to talk on the subject of ‘Facing Tomorrow Today” and specifically environmentally sustainable tourism in Fiji I began researching my speech and quickly started seeing some fundamental similarities between the mindset required from the Fiji business community in having to prepare for the future and an event that occurred on Wallaby tour last November to UK and Europe.
This event I speak of occurred one evening whilst in England – after having thankfully just beaten the English at Twickenham – we had the privilege of being invited to meet the Queen for drinks at her family home at Windsor castle.
On our arrival to Windsor we were given a grand tour of the old castle’s staterooms culminating in an audience with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in her own private function room. Here, before things kicked off, we were given a lengthy speech by one of the royal protocol officials about what we could and couldn’t do when we were with the Queen (pretty much it was just what we couldn’t do) So, by the time the Queen arrived for a chat and a drink a few minutes later we were absolutely petrified of doing anything wrong and causing an embarrassing international incident.
This led to the situation of most of the players when greeted by the Queen just shaking her hand as quickly as possible, mumbling something incoherent (hoping it sounded a bit like ma’am) and then willing her to move on to the next bloke before they broke any obscure royal protocols. Well, this was everybody except Phil Waugh, who seemed to be following her around at a safe, but close, distance for most of the evening.
We couldn’t understand what he was doing until the Queen’s departure was announced and she left the function placing her drink down on one of the mantelpieces as she left. Sure enough as soon as she had left the room Phil raced over to the mantelpiece and with a sly grin grabbed her glass and proceeded to gulp down a mouthful out of the half finished drink before the protocol gentleman was back and we were ushered from the room and back onto the team bus.
Once back on the bus the few of us that had seen what Phil had done asked him what he was doing with the Queen’s glass. Out came his sly grin again and he answered that he had just wanted to be able to say to his mates back home that he and the Queen of England were now such close mates that he had literally shared a drink with her at her place. Although he did also admit that he was pretty curious to see what the Queen was drinking. And indeed, he was successful on both counts.
So this incident came to mind when I started out working on this talk because it showed that even a lowly Australian boy from a simple middle class family in Sydney, with a clear goal, a little planning and just a bit of guts can literally share a drink with the Queen of England in Windsor Castle. Just as I think that a small nation from the Pacific with clear goals, planning and a little guts to make some courageous decisions has the ability and potential to lead the world in environmental sustainable tourism. I also think this is true of what will be required of Fijian rugby in its planning for further success in the medium to long term.