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Fiji Sun

Opinion, Opinion

Super Games Good For Us In Terms Of Rugby And Tourism

Super Games Good For Us In Terms Of Rugby And Tourism
Members of RFMF offers bowl of grog to Chiefs player Jonathan Taumateine during official welcome ceremony of the side at Novotel Hotel in Lami on May 16, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
May 19
10:01 2017

The showdown between Gallagher Chiefs and BNZ Crusaders at the ANZ Stadium in Suva today is the top clash in round 13 of Super Rugby.

Weather permitting, this is expected to be another thriller between New Zealand’s leading franchises.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, a rugby fan and supporter of Super Rugby coming here, will be among the thousands at Laucala tonight.

He will also participate in a 60 seconds ‘Live Television Interview’ with Sky New Zealand during the match.

This will be a significant moment for Fiji as Mr Sayed-Khaiyum faces millions of viewers across the globe who will be watching the proceedings.

Fiji has been in the forefront of sports tourism in the region and its positive impact on our economy. He has been a strong advocate.

Now we hear that the Auckland Blues, coached by Tana Umaga, originally from Samoa, will play their game against the Queensland Reds at Apia in Samoa on June 2. Obviously, the success of the Chiefs-Crusaders game last year here has had some influence in the Blues decision.

But that’s not all. Now we are told that the Crusaders are thinking of hosting one of their games in the Pacific and Fiji is also on their radar.

Obviously, there are many considerations to take into account but Fiji still offers a mouthwatering prospect. In fact it is the logical choice.

Imagine having two Super matches in Suva. They would definitely have a positive spinoff  for rugby and our economy.

Fiji offers the best choice because we have the facilities, the crowd and the capacity to make them into successful events on the Fijian sports calendar. It is a known fact that the Chiefs have made more money playing here than on their home ground in Hamilton, Waikato, or the other franchise grounds.

We have one of the most passionate rugby crowds in the world. It would be a major achievement if we are able to lure the Crusaders away from their bases in the South Island to Suva for just one of their games.

First the Chiefs in Suva followed by Blues in Apia. Even if the Crusaders go to another Pacific island, it would be good for rugby in the region.

The main driver here for the Crusaders is financial. If there is a guarantee that they will make money here, that will sway them.

Stuff has reported that the Crusaders’ camp is wondering whether a return to Fiji would need to be balanced against the possibility that the novelty factor has begun to fade after two Super Rugby games had been staged there in as many seasons. It adds that the camp is wondering whether Nelson, particularly, and Timaru – both sit within the Crusaders’ catchment – can be overlooked.

In 2015, the Crusaders had hoped to play the Hurricanes in Suva, but senior All Blacks from both teams rejected the idea because they didn’t want additional travel in a World Cup year.

Whatever happens, there is growing interest among the unions of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa about Super games in the Pacific.

That can only be good for us in terms of rugby and tourism.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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