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Fiji Rugby Academy Stimulates National Team Environment

Fiji Rugby Academy is an initiative by Fiji Rugby Union, set up basically as a backup system to provide a pool of players who will be ready for selection into
18 Jan 2019 18:26
Fiji Rugby Academy Stimulates National Team Environment
Members of the FRU Academy during one of their training sessions.

Fiji Rugby Academy is an initiative by Fiji Rugby Union, set up basically as a backup system to provide a pool of players who will be ready for selection into the national team not only for this current year but in the years to come.

Fiji Rugby Union Elite Pathway Manager Bill Gadolo explained that the most important element in the programme is the preparation of players into a pro-environment.

“The hope is that the transition for our athletes from academy into representative teams is smooth because players know the protocol, requirements and expectations of the national teams,” Gadolo said.

“We try to stimulate national team environments here (the FRU Academy) in terms of training intensity, training volumes, attitudes, timings and all the components that contribute to Fiji Rugby as a whole,” he said.

The programme is divided into three core levels in which athletes start from the pre- academy Under 16s who have an eye on the Under 18 national honours.

The next level is the apprentice academy who come out of the school boys programme aiming for Under 20, and the third and final stage is the elite academy which consist of players from the Fiji Airways Drua, Swire Shipping Warriors and some from the Under 20 side who all are ready into the Fiji Airways Flying Fijian Selection.

Gadolo emphasised the academy was selection based and there were coaches that went around during seasons identifying suitable talent to be invited into the academy.

He said that they mainly look at players that fit the criteria for each position, not only playing in a position locally but at an international standard with the idea to “pick the cream of those crops that come into the academy.”

“We also have players who we pick from the provincial competition, so once we identify them we bring them into the programme and we see how they adapt and how they react to the programme and one of the biggest thing is the emphasis of creating players with very good attitude,” Gadolo added.

Gadolo said they try to ensure that there was a lot of consistency going down into the three core in the academy as there were many talented players who came in but after eight weeks probation the real picture behind the players and how they adapt into the programme surface and “some may lack consistency, some lack communication skills and some just dont have the attitude or the drive to move on to the next level and this was where they select the people who end up here in the high performance academy.”

The benefit for the players is that they are provided the tools to be able to optimise their talents.

He said that many came in with very raw talent and were provided with the tools, given the knowledge, education around training support helping them in their growth, and also going through the programme will force them into the national teams and expose them into the international player market which will give these players the opportunity to apply their trade professionally that will earn them very decent income playing professional in their clubs.

The academy started with 23 players and out of the 23, Mesulame Kunavula (Fiji Airways Fiji 7s), Frank Lomani, Eroni Mawi, Mesulame Dolokoto (Fiji Airways Flying Fijians and Drua) as well as Tumeli Derenalagi and Vilimoni Botitu are current products of the academy programme under the leadership of mentor Bill Gadolo.

“These boys were taken into the programme at the age of 17, 18 and they have stayed with us until they managed to force their way into the national squads,” Gadolo said.

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