Rugby League

Fijian Drua All Set To Sail

The man overseeing commercial operations for the Fiji Rugby Union says confirmation of a full Super Rugby licence for the Fijian Drua is close.
14 Jul 2021 15:22
Fijian Drua All Set To Sail

The Fijian Drua side is all but set to take part in Super Rugby competition in 2022, it can be confirmed.

And the Fiji Government and corporate sponsors are likely to fund the Fijian Drua operation which amounted to FJD$14 million per year to be able to participate as a Super Rugby franchise.

A major announcement is expected by Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum when he makes the 2021/2022 National Budget announcement on Friday While a Fijian team in Super Rugby has been on the table for so long, its sustainability especially financially was the major hindrance.

World Rugby was the first to announce FJD$3.44m per year for the Drua for three years.

The Australian Government then recently announced further funding for the preparatory works to ensure the Drua is truly sailing with further funding.

While a monetary value was not revealed, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated the amount was significant under the PacificAus Sports Programme. This figure is likely to be in millions.

It is likely that the Fijian Government will fund the first 3-5 years of the Drua’s participation.

 SUNsports contacted Fiji National Sports Commission to confirm if a special

submission had been made by FRU as part of its budget submission.

But executive chairman Peter Mazey could not comment on the issue.

“The Commission did assist both the Kaiviti Silktails (rugby league), FRU and Drua in their deliberations and gave advice on how funding from the Government could be accessed.

“Each required a special request to Cabinet through the Ministry of Tourism and Trade,” Mazey said.

While the Silktails received funding through the Australian Government, FRU and the Drua have applied through the Ministry of Tourism and Trade.

“There is a substantial benefit to the economy hence it makes sense of special requests through Tourism and Trade as they are the beneficiaries in economic activity,” he said.

So where is the government likely to draw this fund from?

Government is likely to work closely with the Drua advertising board.

Between 2014 -2018 government funded the Fiji International golf tournament pumping $51.1m in the tournament which brought economically benefits to the country of over $200m over the four years and opened Fiji to over 500million homes through media coverage.

Government allocated $8.6m in 2014, $12m in 2015, $9m in 2016, $9m in 2017, and $12.5m in 2018.

Following this, the government partnered with Super Rugby to host a match in Suva for three years-in-a-row.

That partnership also proved a hit and laid the platform for the Drua to launch from.

The returns from hosting matches sports tourism (traveling fans), advertising, broadcast deals, sponsorships, and others certainly would be just the splinter needed in recovering from the impact of the pandemic.


Fijian Drua closer to joining Moana Pasifika

The man overseeing commercial operations for the Fiji Rugby Union says confirmation of a full Super Rugby licence for the Fijian Drua is close.

Brian Thorburn told Pacific Beat, management hope to get everything tied down in the next couple of weeks, so the Fijian side can join the Tongan-Samoan franchise, Moana Pasifika, in the new look competition.

But Thorburn said they are keen to see what the final structure of the competition will look like first.

“New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia have been talking about that for a while, and we believe they are getting close.”

Meanwhile, the Drua are working on contingency plans, as the team face the prospect of being unable to play matches in Fiji during their first season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“The competition starts in February, but we’ve had to turn our minds to the possibility that travel bubbles won’t be open by then, and you can’t have New Zealand and Australian teams coming into Fiji and having to quarantine, and then quarantine again on their return.”

One option would be for the Drua to follow the lead of the Fiji Silktails rugby league team, and base themselves full time in Australia, for at least for one season.

Once a full licence is confirmed, Thorburn says recruitment will begin in earnest.

“We’re ready to appoint a coach and a chief

executive virtually the day after we get our

licence… licence…we’ve also been targeting players, we have a squad list, and we think that can be tied down quickly too.”




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