Sunvoice

World Rugby Must Allow The Live Feed For The Sake Of Rugby

World Rugby has again flexed its muscles and used its powers to tell Fiji that it is control. Its latest threat to withdraw the live feed of the Dubai Sevens
05 Dec 2014 08:04
World Rugby Must Allow The Live Feed For The Sake Of Rugby
The Vodafone Fiji 7S team having a pool session in Dubai.Photo: Ian Muir

World Rugby has again flexed its muscles and used its powers to tell Fiji that it is control.

Its latest threat to withdraw the live feed of the Dubai Sevens this weekend because it does not recognise a deal to beam the sevens action to as many fans as possible is dictatorial and undemocratic.

The Government’s position is clear. Its decree on televising such major events is intended to ensure the maximum number of Fijians can watch. It worked work well with FIFA’s World Cup soccer. When Fiji TV, which originally had the exclusive rights to the sevens, agreed it should share with other stations to promote rugby, World Rugby’s response does not make sense. World Rugby is at fault. This is why:

No one will lose revenue from the arrangement.

More rugby fans can watch live action. Only a limited number can afford to watch via satellite. The majority rely on free to air service which FBC Television and Mai TV provide.

Rugby is the winner because the wider coverage will promote the sport.

World Rugby contradicts itself. Globally, it has spent millions of dollars spreading the sport and breaking new grounds. We like to believe that it is doing the same thing in Fiji and the region. But it becomes confusing when it challenges efforts to grow the sport and its support base.

It’s even more serious when money becomes the overriding factor in this episode.

We understand that professional rugby is intricately linked to commercial  considerations. But there comes a time when the human side should take precedence.

This is the time. Many Fijians this weekend will be gravitating towards  television sets to watch the Vodafone Fiji Sevens reps try to create history in Dubai by winning their second tournament consec utively. To deny them this opportunity would be a serious blow  to their  expectation.

Those who administer World Rugby may live in the Northern Hemisphere and may not fully understand the passion that Fijians have about the sport. It is not lost to Fijians that certain World Rugby laws like player eligibility rule undermine efforts of Pacific  countries to raise their standards.

The law prevented ex-All Blacks Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni  Sivivatu  from playing for the Flying Fijians. Yet the tier-one nations, who control World Rugby, are quick to recruit the best of Fijian players to play for them in their prime.

While Northern tours are organised annually, Fiji and its Pacific neighbours need more tests at home with top nations like the All Blacks and Wallabies to improve their standards. But they rarely happen because, once again, they are based on financial considerations.

When this edition went to press, World Rugby had not made its decision. In the context of growing the game here and the increasing challenge from rugby league, World Rugby cannot afford to deny Fiji the live feed.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper