14 Mar 2019

Sport: Fiji 'humbled and grateful' for 7s hosting opportunity

11:00 am on 14 March 2019

The Fiji Rugby Union says while it's disappointing their bid to host a new World Sevens Series tournament was unsuccessful, they are humbled and grateful that New Zealand Rugby has offered to alternate the hosting of the Hamilton leg with Fiji.

Fiji huddle before their semi final against South Africa.

Fiji might get the chance to play on home soil. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

World Rugby received more than 20 expressions of interest from countries interested in hosting a leg on the World Sevens Series.

Fiji Rugby submitted a bid last year proposing the introduction of an 11th leg of the men's circuit, to be played in October as a new opening round to the season, but World Rugby decided the current ten tournament structure will remain in place for the next four years.

FRU Chair Francis Kean said he appreciated World Rugby's reasons for not wanting to add an additional event to the current schedule.

"We understand that player welfare concerns drove the decision by World Rugby not to expand the Series beyond its existing ten tournaments, and we respect that decision" he said.

FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean and Flying Fijians coach John McKee.

FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean and Flying Fijians coach John McKee. Photo: Supplied / Fiji Rugby Union

Fiji Rugby confirmed they are in advanced discussions with their New Zealand counterparts to alternate hosting of the existing Hamilton leg of the World Series in January.

"We are humbled and grateful to New Zealand Rugby for offering to alternate hosting of their leg of the tournament with Fiji and appreciate the trust our rugby brothers are showing in our capability to do so," Mr Kean said.

"We have held productive discussions with NZR for some time, including the hosting of World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby representatives for site reviews and discussions in the past weeks."

The Fijiana team huddle during the USA Sevens in Colorado.

The New Zealand Sevens will be a joint men's and women's event from 2020, which means the Fijiana could also get the chance to play at home. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

"We are certain an HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Fiji will have the full support of Government and together with the people of Fiji, will deliver a unique experience for the players in hosting a successful tournament for World Rugby.

"As they do at many existing tournaments in the series, Fijian fans will turn out in their thousands to support their team, and we expect to attract large volumes of overseas rugby fans to experience Fiji's hospitality and passion for sevens rugby.

"We still have a lot of work to get this over the line and our priority is to continue to work very hard to ensure we achieve full compliance for World Rugby and NZ Rugby compliance requirements in the next month, and we look forward to then making further announcements about hosting the tournament in due course."