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Fiji Rugby Looks At Leo’s Olympic Threat While Friday Warns Of Its Impact

The Fiji Rugby Union will not be dragged into a debate with Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) chief executive officer Daniel Leo.
01 May 2020 11:32
Fiji Rugby Looks At Leo’s Olympic Threat While Friday Warns Of Its Impact
Team Fiji men’s rugby 7s team (left-right0 Josua Tuisova, Vatemo Ravouvou and Jasa Veremalua after winning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: World Rugby.

The Fiji Rugby Union will not be dragged into a debate with Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) chief executive officer Daniel Leo.

This was after Leo threatened to send a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asking them to suspend rugby sevens from the Games until World Rugby complied with IOC code of ethics.

The Samoan wants World Rugby to launch a probe into how FRU board chairman Francis Kean was allowed to stand as a candidate for the governing body’s executive committee, despite being convicted of manslaughter and allegedly making ‘homophobic’ comments.

Kean who had served his jail sentence before becoming a World Rugby Council member, has stood down from contesting a seat in the WR executive committee, which he is eligbile for.

Under Kean’s strong leadership FRU was able to comply with all the requirements by WR in terms of good governance, accountability and transparency.

This resulted in FRU getting a WR Council seat for the first time after 106 years.

It is understood that Leo’s outbursts is a smear tactic after FRU had seconded Sir Bill Beaumont’s nomination for chairmanship along with his French running mate Bernard Laporte.

Turning the focus to sevens rugby, indicates that Leo and his accomplices would go to any length to tarnish Fiji’s reputation.

This is indeed disappointing and sad especially coming from some one of our Pacific neighbours.

NO POLITICS

USA 7s coach Mike Friday yesterday warned Leo not to use the sport as a political football by threatening to get it banned from the Olympic Games in his battle with World Rugby.

Friday told Rugby Pass, that he’s adamant the loss of Olympic status would have far-reaching financial effects on emerging countries and seriously hamper the growth of the sport which is using sevens to break into new markets, most notably in Asia.

It took World Rugby 90 years to get rugby back into the Olympics. Fiji won the men’s 7s gold at Rio in 2016 and Friday does not want any action taken that removes the status of the sport as a member of the Olympic family.

As that would see much-needed government funding withdrawn for many nations, including USA.

Fijian 7s maestro Waisale Serevi, Lawrence Dallaglio and the late Jonah Lomu were then International Rugby Board (IRB) ambassadors to lobby IOC on rugby’s inclusion into the Olympic Games. This materialised on August 13, 2009.

“This is a pretty juvenile strong-arm tactic to throw out there given all the work that has been done to get sevens into the Olympics,” Friday said.

“More importantly, sevens is the only authentic way we can make the sport global. Being out of the Games could have serious effects for those who come out of and we need to be careful using the sport as a political football.

“It would be unfair for USA, Canada and the non-traditional rugby nations which are the commercial markets that will assist the Pacific Islands in the development of their rugby.

“There should be sensible conversations being held with World Rugby rather than airing our dirty washing in public.

“We have battled hard to get to this position and don’t need the ladder kicked away from us particularly at this very difficult time.

‘Next year’s Olympic Games in Japan is huge for sevens going forward.”

CHALLENGE

Now, the ball is in Leo’s court to go ahead with his letter to IOC.

He needs to put his money where his mouth is and no amount of threats is going to do any good to anyone.

It’s time for him to act and see where he stands in the rugby world, especially to prove that he is merely not a voice in the wilderness trying to sound relevant.

Edited by Sereana Salalo

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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