Sunvoice

Pearls Meet Ferns, How About Flying Fijians vs All Blacks?

The Silver Ferns presence in the Oceania Tri-Series starting next week raises some interesting questions. The world’s Number Two netball team sees a tri-series tournament with Fiji and Samoa worthy
13 Jan 2015 08:51

The Silver Ferns presence in the Oceania Tri-Series starting next week raises some interesting questions.

The world’s Number Two netball team sees a tri-series tournament with Fiji and Samoa worthy of their time.

They see the Fiji Pearls, ranked seventh in the world and Samoa, ranked fourteenth, as worthy opponents.

Try convincing the All Blacks to play a test match against the Flying Fijians at the ANZ Stadium. Let’s face it.

It’s all about the money, honey. The odds of the Number One ranked rugby team in the world playing in Suva are slim. Case in point. The All Blacks chose to play the United States of America, aka, the American Eagles, at the beginning of November last year.

The Eagles are currently ranked 16th in the world by the International Rugby Union.

The All-Blacks romped to a 74-6 win at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The venue, usually host to National Football League (NFL) games was witnessed by an enthusiastic 61, 500 crowd.

The reality is the All Blacks don’t see any financial advantage in playing the Flying Fijians outside of the World Cup. The U.S.A is a massive untapped market with ernomous commercial potential.

The Eagles were then beaten by 20-14 by our national team in a lame performance in France on November 22, during their Northern tour.

Fijians still enjoy a ranking, 11th, on the IRB charts, above the U.S Eagles.

So much for prioritising All Blacks’ games against higher ranked opponents.  Japan is another popular destination, despite being out of the top ten in the IRB rankings.

The Maori All Blacks played Japan in November last year. The Japanese rugby market is small but lucrative with its domestic league backed by the powerful multinationals like Toyota.

The Japanese national rugby team has progressed in leaps and bounds under former Wallabies mentor Eddie Jones.

The Maori All Blacks underestimated the strength of the Brave Blossoms and walked away licking their wounds after scraping through 20-18 in their second match. The Brave Blossoms fought back after losing 61-21 a week earlier.

So what do we learn from the All Blacks charade? Don’t believe the talk of developing the game in the islands.

The All Blacks planned test match against Samoa in July this year is the result of a generation of Samoan influence on top-level management in the New Zealand Rugby Union. It helps to that Bryan Williams, President of the NZRU, has paternal links to Samoa.

So here’s a challenge for the powers that be. What will it take to bring the world’s best rugby team to Suva? What will make it worth their while? Rather than playing the victim-card, what corporate plans and players can we bring on board to make it happen?

Obviously, this entails a rethinking of the whole rugby culture and ethos in Fiji.

But let us say at the outset, we’re really happy for our national netball team, the Fiji Pearls.

They deserve to be playing the Silver Ferns in Suva. Maybe someone needs to get Bryan Williams on the phone and convince him that playing the Flying Fijians is just as beneficial as playing Manu Samoa.

Feedback:  josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 




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