Growing Our Rugby Player Base For The Future

The Fiji Rugby Union must build and grow its player-base at home for the future. Already the grass is greener offshore for our rugby players and the new residency rule
14 May 2017 11:13
Growing Our Rugby Player Base For The Future
Photo:Rugby World Cup

The Fiji Rugby Union must build and grow its player-base at home for the future.

Already the grass is greener offshore for our rugby players and the new residency rule will result in exodus of more Fijians, Tongans and Samoans abroad at an early age.

The announcement of World Rugby on Wednesday that they would increase the number of years for a residency qualification from three to five years with the policy coming into effect from December 31, 2020 will have a bearing on Pacific Island rugby.

This will result in Pacific talent leaving the islands earlier so as to become eligible by the time they come of age.

Already, renowned schools in Australia, Europe, Japan and New Zealand have offered scholarships for Pacific Island students and some have made it into the Tricolours, All Blacks, Cherry Blossoms and the Wallabies.

The concern now is that instead of receiving scholarships at 16 and 17 years, they could be offered scholarships at 14 and 15.

If youngsters move at 16 then even when the new rules come into force they will be naturalised at 21. If they move at 14 they will be naturalised by 19.

Japan has made inroads in tapping into the Pacific Islands wealth of talent before hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The Cherry Blossoms are still the talk of the rugby world after defeating the Springboks at the 2015 RWC.

The Junior Japan team which took part in the 2017 World Rugby Pacific Challenge in Suva has a good mix of Pacific Island talent which augurs well for the Cherry Blossoms in future.

We support the effort of the FRU to grow the game with our limited resources and small economy.

The recent appointment of professional personnel to market and help grow the game is welcomed.

But the FRU must keep control in monitoring players and build a stronger player-base before the residency qualification comes into effect in 2020.

The humiliating defeat of our Under-20 rugby team by New Zealand, Australia and Samoa shows the gulf in depth and the lack of development in the lower ages.

These players will definitely look offshore for a better rugby future, if nothing better is offered at home.


 Vodafone Flying Fijians in Pool D

The Vodafone Flying Fijians are in a better position to win the 2019 RWC Oceania qualifier and be in Pool D with Australia, Wales, Georgia and Americas Two.

Fiji is in pole position with 8 points after winning last year’s tournament against Tonga and Samoa.

A win in July will enable Fiji to top Oceania and a better chance of qualifying for the Cup quarterfinal.

We beat Wales in the 2007 RWC in France and the Flying Fijians can do it again.

We have a chance to gauge our standard against Australia in the test in Melbourne and the four other internationals against Scotland, Italy,Tonga and Samoa.

But there should be no room for complacency because we lost to Georgia in Suva last year. Georgia qualified for the last four World Cups and impressed at the 2015 tournament where they upset Tonga and defeated Namibia.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who we are drawn against, because to win at the Rugby World Cup, you have to beat the best teams out there.

This means you need you need to win at least three of your four pool matches to be sure of a place in the playoffs.

For the Vodafone Flying Fijians, the journey towards the RWC 2019 starts next month against the Wallabies in the first of the five internationals.

Vodafone Flying Fijians coach John McKee confirmed overseas –based players will arrive on May 31, before they fly to Melbourne on June 4.

We have ample time to prepare and be ready.


RWC 2019 pools:

Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1,

Playoff winner

Pool B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1,

Repechage winner

Pool C: England, France, Argentina, Americas 1,

Oceania 2

Pool D: Australia, Wales, Georgia, Oceania 1,

Americas 2. Osea Bola

Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021

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