Analysis

Analysis: What’s There For FRU?

The FRU had seconded the nomination of current chairman Sir Bill Beaumont and his running mate Frenchman Bernard Laporte.
19 Apr 2020 10:55
Analysis: What’s There For FRU?
If Sir Bill Beaumont stays for another term as World Rugby chairman, he wants a review of Regulation Eight, in a move to support the longevity of players in international careers. If Regulation Eight is relaxed former All Blacks centre Seta Tamanivalu (left) and England No.8 Nathan Hughes (right) could play for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians.

The FRU had seconded the nomination of current chairman Sir Bill Beaumont and his running mate Frenchman Bernard Laporte.

Good relations with the French Rugby Federation saw them second FRU’s nomination of their board chairman, Francis Kean, for a World Rugby’s executive committee seat.

Kean is among the eight nominations for the seven seats in the WR executive committee.

But all interest is definitely on the WR chairmanship position after former Argentinean star halfback and WR vice-chairman Agustin Pichot, in the last minute declared his interest to challenge Sir Bill for the top job.

Pichot’s emergence has been backed by Rugby World Cup winning coaches Sir Graham Henry of New Zealand and Sir Clive Woodward.

Sir Clive said, Pichot’s proposals is what the sport really need.

“It’s a radical shake-up which would change the game for good,” he said while Sir Graham called on New Zealand Rugby to back the 45-year-old.

LACK OF INTEREST

Unfortunately, Fiji Rugby does not share that view. The Fijians are still reeling of how the results of the 1980 Test matches against Argentina in Buenos Aires were used against them to boost the Pumas elevation into the rugby world to be among the Tier 1 nations.

And so far, Argentina Rugby has done so little to assist in the development of the Pacific island teams of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

The Rugby Data stats reveal the Pumas have played Fiji in four test matches (from 1980 to 2013), Samoa, in four test matches (1991 to 2005) and Tonga in a single Test match in 2015.

So this raises a few questions on whether Pichot is really there for everyone or is he there to safeguard the interests of certain rugby heavyweights.

For that to happen, only time will tell.

MANIFESTO

But what is there for Fiji Rugby, if Sir Bill gets the nod to continue into his second term as the WR chair.

His first term, saw the emergence of Fiji and Samoa getting WR Council seats for the first time despite playing the sport for over 100 years.

It is no secret that Sir Bill and Laporte have been friends of Fiji Rugby for so many years.

In his updated manifesto, the former England and British Lions lock is considering a big change that could have major ramifications for international rugby.

Sir Bill is prepared to address the possibility of players from the Pacific Islands being allowed to return to play for their country of birth after being captured by other international teams, such as England or New Zealand.

He wants to launch a review of Regulation Eight, which governs international participation and locks players into representing only one country.

Bigger financial rewards can mean that Pacific Island players choose Tier One nations like England or the All Blacks if they qualify through residency.

However, those players often end up on the scrapheap if those bigger countries stop picking them.

An example of this was Bristol Bears fullback Charles Piutau who played 17 times for New Zealand but has not featured for the All Blacks since 2015. If Regulation Eight had been relaxed, he could have played alongside his brother, Siale, for Tonga at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

In his manifesto, Sir Bill calls for a review of the regulation “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers.”

LEARN FROM BATI

The success of relaxing regulations has already been seen in rugby league- where a number of Fijian players switched allegiances from Australia and New Zealand back to their home country, resulting in the Fijian Bati reaching the semi-finals of the 2008, 2013 and 2018 World Cups.

This could mean the likes of Taqele Naiyaravoro, Seta Tamanivalu, Waisake Naholo, Nathan Hughes, Semesa Rokoduguni, Eto Nabuli, Noa Nakaitaci and Sefa Naivalu all trying out for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians jumper.

Like the Fijian Bati, it could make the Flying Fijians one of the powerhouses not only in the sevens code but fifteens as well.

We’ve got to play our cards right but this time we’re surely getting to where we want to be in rugby.

Edited by Sereana Salalo

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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