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Change Of Direction, Fiji Rugby Union Looks North For Progress

The bold decision at Rugby House, shows the Fijians are not going to be tossed around by the rugby heavyweights. They too want their fair share of the cake and are not going to take anything that is dished out at them.
29 Apr 2020 15:11
Change Of Direction, Fiji Rugby Union Looks North For Progress
Fijian-born Chiefs flanker, Pita Gus Sowakula, rookie Blues winger Emoni Narawa and Crusaders’ Manasa Mataele will only play for the Flying Fijians once they complete their Super Rugby contract. Photo: Chiefs,TVNZ

The votes for the World Rugby elections are now going on in a secret electronic ballot. All 51 votes must be cast by tomorrow and the results will be revealed on May 12.

And this will confirm whether Sir Bill Beaumont or Agustin Pichot has taken up the top job.

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) had seconded the French Rugby Federation’s (FRF) nomination for Sir Bill with FRF’s president Bernard Laporte, being his running mate.

BOLDNESS

The bold decision at Rugby House, shows the Fijians are not going to be tossed around by the rugby heavyweights. They too want their fair share of the cake and are not going to take anything that is dished out at them.

And it’s about time as well.

 

TURNING POINT

It is understood that the final straw came when a Pacific Team bid was made to South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina Rugby (SANZAAR) by FRU.

They were told by SANZAAR that to have a Pacific Team playing in Super Rugby, they must meet all costs which came to $22 million.

While they were looking into it, an official that worked on the bid says, SANZAAR kept changing the goalposts making it difficult for them and in the end they had to pull the plug.

“After many years and until today, all Pacific players playing in the Super Rugby, cannot play for their country Fiji, Samoa or Tonga simply because of what is stipulated in their contracts,” the official said.

For Fiji, it is players like Pita Gus Sowakula, Manasa Mataele, Emoni Narawa and the list goes on.

Pichot’s nomination had been seconded by Rugby Australia whose chairman Paul McLean said, this was done to send a message to the Northern Hemisphere.

Pichot is often seen as a strong advocate for Tier two nations and for the Southern Hemisphere as a whole, being from the SANZAAR region.

“We as SANZAAR decided collectively that we would support our own in that regard and we’ve been very upfront with Bill Beaumont, the chairman, about that,” McLean said.

‘GAME FOR ALL’

For Sir Bill, he’s ready to open up the game.

This is stated in his ‘Game For All’ manifesto where 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.

So if Regulation Eight is relaxed, it could allow them to continue their international career by playing for their country.

This could further strengthen Fiji, Samoa and Tonga as majority of their players are playing for New Zealand, Australia, England, France and England.

Rugby League has adopted this. Fiji and Tonga proved their dominance by reaching the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals in 2018.

NEW PARTNERSHIP

For the Fijians, their newfound partnership with the French could be a threat to other Tier 1 teams.

Sources indicate that this could see the Flying Fijians playing either the French Barbarians, France A or France during their European November tour.

This starts on November 14 and will become an annual encounter right up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

This is part of their deal with finer details of other agreements are still under wraps as the work is on their logistics and costs as well.

Edited by  Sereana Salalo

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