SPAIN'S Rugby Sevens team braved 230-kilometre-per-hour winds to protect guests on a beachfront resort when Hurricane Winston struck the Pacific island of Fiji.
The men's side was in the Uprising Resort when the level-5 cyclone hit, bringing gusts of up to 360 kilometres per hour and a constant wind of 230km/h, threatening to flatten the entire complex and everyone in it.
But the players filled sandbags and lined them up on the shore, keeping the massive tidal waves at bay.
Guests were evacuated immediately, although trees came down all over the complex and many of the rooms filled up with sand.
By stopping the tidal waves, though, the Spanish rugby players are likely to have saved lives – and although it will take at least another week to clean up, resort manager James Pridgeon says it could have been a lot worse.
“They kept us safe,” he assured. “They didn't put their own lives first – they just kept working.”
The team is staying at the resort, just under 50 kilometres from the island's capital, Suva, on a month-long training course ahead of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Hong Kong, which they are aiming to qualify for as their next step on the way to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
And the heroes say their hurricane protection work was the toughest training of all – but that it had taught tem a 'lesson in life'.
Uprising Resort Fiji tweeted: “Forever grateful to these guys @Spain7s who have [p]ut their own safety on the line to help us protect what we can!”
The worst hurricane Fiji has ever seen – despite being used to very high winds at this time of year – Cyclone Winston has led to a curfew and power supplies cut off.
But the Spanish Rugby Federation assured that a safe area in the hotel had been set up for all guests, including the players, and that nobody had been injured.
Elsewhere on the island, though, at least 10 people are thought to have died.
Photographs 1 and 2 from Spain Rugby Sevens Twitter site (@Spain7s) and photograph 3 from Uprising Resort Fiji's Twitter site (@UprisingFiji)