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FRU Now Need The Game Of Their Lives

Checkmate. That’s how best to describe the National Rugby League (NRL) set-up in Fiji. Rivals, the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) has few options on the table. It doesn’t have the
08 Nov 2014 14:56
FRU Now Need The Game Of Their Lives

Checkmate. That’s how best to describe the National Rugby League (NRL) set-up in Fiji. Rivals, the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) has few options on the table. It doesn’t have the finances to compete.

Judging from Vodafone national 7s coach Ben Ryan’s recent comments, there’s nothing in the kitty to compete with better paying employers.  Even rugby minnows Sri Lanka, have more money to pay for Fijian players.

That’s why Ben Ryan’s contributions to Fijian rugby are particularly appreciated. Without the resources that English teams take for granted, he has moulded a winning culture in the Vodafone national 7s team.

It’ll take this kind of steely determination to fight the juggernaut that is rugby league. The NRL, which officially launches its Fiji operations on November 20 at Albert Park in Suva has big plans:

1) Set up an office with its own chief executive officer and specialists from Australia

2) Partner with the Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) in developing the game in Fiji and with sister organisations in Papua New Guinea and Samoa

3) Target schools with a variety of programmes like anti-bullying and non-communicable diseases

FRU boss Radrodro Tabualevu has his work cut out for him.

The most economical route to success to compete against the NRL for him would be to take a leaf out of the Nadroga Rugby Union’s playbook.

Mr Radrodro is a known admirer of Nadroga rugby. They have the perfect recipe for success.  Their meticulous in-house management and leadership and their determination to succeed have paid huge dividends.

Their strategic partnerships with the vanua, corporate houses and their community work has made them a household brand.

First things first of course. A constitutional review of sorts needs to be undertaken at Rugby House to sort out issues, like annual general meetings.  Reform needs a strong foundation. At the moment, the FRU’s constitution does not have the framework to support the changes needed, according to specialists advising Mr Tabualevu.

Then FRU will be able to address the other important issue. Improved pay for local players; particularly contracted national 7s representatives.

Another issue is the quality of domestic competitition. That only three locally-based players were able to make the team playing France today should be a concern.

NRL, for all intents and purposes wants the best for Fijians. We shouldn’t begrudge them that. Their chief guest for the November 20 launch is rugby league convert Semi Radradra. The Paramatta Eels flyer is the poster boy for the rugby league gospel. The former national 7s representative now tops the scoring table for NRL in the 2014 season. His club has awarded him with a lucrative new four-year contract. The Fiji rugby union fraternity needs to beat that kind of story.

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj

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