Rugby League

 Super Drua

We’re grateful to the Fiji National Sports Commission for making it happen then. The Drua won the NRC once and finished in the top four twice. Now we’ve moved on and jumping again into the unknown,
15 Apr 2021 12:44
 Super Drua
From left: Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor, Board Member Jay Whyte, Board chairman Conway Beg and Fiji Rugby High Performance Unit general manager Simon Raiwalui on April 14, 2021 at Rugby House in Suva celebrate the announcement of the Fijian Drua’s participation in Super Rugby. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The work of preparing the Fijian Drua to field a competitive team in the 2022 Super Rugby competition has begun.

This was after New Zealand Rugby yesterday granted conditional licences to the Drua and the Moana Pasifika to join a planned new professional 12-team competition next year. There will be five New Zealand teams, five Australian teams, Moana Pasifika and the Drua.

Fiji Rugby Union board chairman Conway Beg said the operations of the Drua will be conducted through a separate company, which will be majority owned by private investors.

“However, it will work closely with FRU in many ways,” Beg said.

“This is one of the most exciting developments in the history of Fiji Rugby. To be able to field a team in Super Rugby is a dream come true.”

Although being subject to finalisation of private capital funding, Beg says, FRU is in advanced stages of discussions and remains confident that it will finalise funding from one of those parties in coming weeks.

Beg said they would soon be advertising the position of chief executive officer (CEO) for the Drua franchise.

FRU general manager commercial Brian Thorburn said once they finalised their equity partners, then they have a lot to do in the next nine months to make it happen.

“Starting on the appointment of coaches, contracting of players, locking in venues (ANZ Stadium and Churchill Park) and broadcasters as well as securing commercial partners,” Thorburn said.

He also highlighted that there would be many opportunities for Fijian companies to get behind the team.

“We’ll be looking for a number of Drua sponsors from team naming rights to sleeve sponsors and suppliers. We’ll be building a hospitality programme to allow businesses of any size to get involved.”

Beg said: “With the prospect of hosting matches against the likes of the Crusaders, Brumbies, Blues and Reds every year, will not only attract huge crowds from local Fijians, but the hundreds of overseas fans who can combine following their team with a holiday at Fiji’s wonderful destination holiday resorts and islands.”

He said the addition of the Drua will create more than 65 new jobs, injecting excess of $6 million in salaries alone in the economy. With other spending and taxes, the economic impact is expected to exceed $15m annually.

FRU chief executive officer, John O’Connor, said in 2017 they were jumping into the unknown when the Drua was accepted to participate in the Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC).

“We’re grateful to the Fiji National Sports Commission for making it happen then. The Drua won the NRC once and finished in the top four twice. Now we’ve moved on and jumping again into the unknown,” he said.

O’Connor said after many years of having our Super Rugby bid rejected what has happened now is only through the act of God.

“For Fiji Rugby, he is the eighth person in the sevens team and the 16th person in our 15s team.”

He said when the Flying Fijians camped in France, last November, about 60 per cent of the overseas-based players expressed their interest to return home and play for the Drua, since all the 30 players will be contracted.

On the Drua coach, O’Connor said they were not doing any head-hunting at the moment.

“We’ll advertise and then see it from there, but the coach will need to work with the Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter.”




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