SPORTS

Rugby Talks

The Fiji Rugby Union is still negotiating with the Global Rapid Rugby on its partici­pation in the tournament. This was confirmed on Tuesday to SUNsports by FRU chief execu­tive officer
10 Jan 2019 10:20
Rugby Talks
Olympian Masivesi Dakuwaqa (with ball) now plays for Western Force that is currently owned by billionaire Andrew Forrest. Dakuwaqa is expected to star in the Global Rapid Rugby competition. Photo: Zimbio

The Fiji Rugby Union is still negotiating with the Global Rapid Rugby on its partici­pation in the tournament.

This was confirmed on Tuesday to SUNsports by FRU chief execu­tive officer John O’Connor.

“We are in the final stages of the negotiation process in terms of our participation,” he said.

“We’ve not signed the M.O.U (Memorandum of Understand­ing) as yet. For us we’re looking at the interest of FRU and more importantly the welfare and avail­ability of our players.

“We have commenced prelimi­nary preparation works for the tournament as the competition is expected to start end of March.”

PRO CONTRACTS

According to a Radio New Zea­land report, up to 50 Pacific Island based players could earn profes­sional contracts as part of the GRR competition, providing the region with a welcome boost after a push for a Super Rugby franchise came up short.

The brainchild of billionaire Western Force owner Andrew For­rest, eight teams are expected to take part in the inaugural season in 2019, including entries repre­senting Fiji and Samoa.

The competition evolved from a series of exhibition matches host­ed by the Force this year, including against Fiji A, Tonga A and Samoa A, following their axing from Su­per Rugby.

EARLY NERVES

With little more than two months until the proposed launch, Pacific Rugby Players CEO Aayden Clarke admitted there was still a lot of un­certainty.

“I know there’s a lot of nervous­ness around Global Rapid Rugby but we’ve been working with them and also our fellow associations, New Zealand Rugby Players As­sociation and RUPA in Australia around making sure we work alongside Rapid Rugby so that it can happen and it works well,” he said.

“This means possibly we could be talking 30/40/50 extra professional contracts for on-island based Pa­cific Island players so my job is to work as hard as we can to make that happen.

“At the moment we’ve got Fiji in­cluded in there and it looks like we’re going to have a lot more presence – I know it hasn’t been confirmed officially but that’s ex­citing.”

It’s understood the Samoan bid is working alongside Richard Fale, who was the face of a Hawaii-based consortium wanting to join Super Rugby, and would likely play some of their home matches in Hono­lulu.

Samoa Rugby Union CEO Faleo­mavaega Vincent Fepulea’i said the national body will make an of­ficial statement when the details of SRU involvement is formalised with the intended franchise.

LAW CHANGES

Despite a number of experi­mental law changes, including a nine point ‘power try’ for attacks launched from inside the scoring team’s own 22 and reducing games to 70 minutes in duration, GRR was endorsed by World Rugby last month and competition officials have been in regular communica­tion with the Rugby Australia.

GRR inaugural champions will earn a prize purse of FJD$1.6 mil­lion.

– Edited by Grace Narayan

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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