Leo Replies To Fiji Sun

The following is from a longer letter he sent in response to Fiji Sun reports.
03 May 2020 11:34
Leo Replies To Fiji Sun
Dan Leo.

We continue to press World Rugby on the status of their investigation into Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean which they promised on April 19 immediately following the Sunday Times’ expose.

If you are as interested as you say in the long-term success of rugby 7s in the Olympic programme, I can guarantee that the best way to achieve this is to make sure that Kean goes nowhere near the Tokyo competition.

There is nothing more likely to cause rugby 7s to be removed from the IOC sports programme than for World Rugby and the FRU to have failed to prevent Kean from receiving accreditation to the event, let alone the probable dressing room and pitch access he would expect and even the possibility of presenting medals.

The Fiji Sun is so much in its own bubble of wishful thinking.

It is a reflection that aspects of World Rugby are past their sell-by date, with their fly-in,fly-out expatriate governance experts, that Kean was able to get as far as he did. World Rugby has been marking their homework for too long and the PRPW is leading the process in calling that out.

The USA 7s coach Mike Friday, a man whose service to the game I respect, is not across the issues of how much damage Kean is doing and has done to Fiji rugby. Just in the same way, I am not across the many challenging issues that USA Rugby faces.


But unlike him I chose not to comment on what I am not fully briefed on. So I have invited him to study the situation in Fiji before he goes into bat for the current FRU chairman.It is for rugby and all the sport’s stakeholders to make their choice on Kean.

The respected online resource ‘Rugby and the Law’ concluded: ‘[the fact] That Francis Kean was on the Council, and was nominated for ExCo, is an embarrassment for World Rugby. It must ensure that this never happens again.’

The blog concludes that actually World Rugby is already in breach of its commitment to the International Olympic Committee by having no means of checking the suitability for candidates to serve on either the Council or Exco.

‘As an International Federation recognised by the IOC, World Rugby are bound by this undertaking [to have their own code of ethics or to use the IOC’s]. It, therefore, ought to have a code of ethics in line with the IOC Code to ensure the highest standards of integrity, including political neutrality. That Francis Kean was able to become a representative on the Council is a damning indictment of World Rugby’s failure in this regard. There are also wider questions about political involvement in the Unions which need to be addressed, as the chairman of both the Fiji and Samoa Rugby Unions are the countries’ Prime Ministers. World Rugby is not fully compliant with its IOC obligations,underlining the case for reform.

Are you really across these governance and ethics issues?

Did you research these issues carefully before challenging me to put my money where my mouth is?

Direct dealings

It might interest your readers to reflect on the last time I had any direct dealings with the FRU. Just so you can be sure in your own mind who has the best interests of Fiji rugby and fans at heart.

In August 2018 I wrote to the FRU CEO to encourage him in the strongest possible terms to demand that World Rugby revisit the schedule for the 2019 Rugby World Cup as both Fiji and Samoa [yet again] had received draws that gave their Tier One group rivals a significant advantage. This was more than a year before the tournament.

Fiji played four Test matches in 18 days vs 20 days for Wales and Australia [Samoa was 18 days vs Scotland and Ireland’s 21 days]

Who knows, if Fiji had more than three days recovery time between the Australia and Uruguay matches – what I was asking the FRU CEO to ensure his team had – the outcome of the whole tournament could have been different.

There is no evidence that the FRU CEO even thought to raise this subject.As I said at the time, ‘waiting for scraps and quivering with gratitude is not the way to overhaul a system that has stripped the best from the Pacific and given so little back in return. That is why we chose to stand united as rugby professionals and proud Pacific Islanders, and are happy to look after each other for the common good.

Both are obstacles to what the game of rugby needs now more than ever.

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