5 Dec 2023

Fiji Rugby board to meet World Rugby team, sets Olympic target

5:11 pm on 5 December 2023
Simione Kuruvoli impressed against the All Blacks.

Peter Mazey said all Fiji Rugby international players were now contracted. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Fiji Rugby Union Trustees Board will be meeting with a team from World Rugby in Suva this week to confirm funding for Fiji Rugby and Test match schedules for the Flying Fijians moving towards the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Board chairman Peter Mazey revealed this to RNZ Pacific in an interview on Tuesday.

And the FRU is serious about both the Fijian men's and Fijiana women's sevens rugby teams winning gold medals at the 2024 Olympic Games in France, despite the tough challenges both teams face in their build-up.

That has seen sevens players being contracted from now until after the end of the Olympics.

Mazey revealed that a team from World Rugby was arriving in Suva on Tuesday for meetings with the FRU Trustees Board and management.

Peter Mazey

Peter Mazey Photo: Fiji Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Trustees work

"World Rugby are here today. The trustees will be meeting with World Rugby this week. They arrived today and will be here for the rest of the week," Mazey said.

"We are finalising with the Trustees what funding will World Rugby be putting in place for high performance and development budgets. And we are doing our own budgets right at the moment for operations as well, including all the competitions."

Mazey said one of the biggest achievements so far since they came into operation earlier this year was contracting all national representatives and putting key performance indicators for them as well.

"So, all our international players are now contracted. Our sevens boys and girls they're on contracts. And not only are the main teams contracted but also our development squads are contracted," he said.

"For seven that's right through to just past the Olympics in 2024, so for over a year.

"The Flying Fijians come under contract when they go into camp, of course, because they're already in contracts internationally and with the Drua. And of these contracts even the players have KPIs as well, just the same as the coaches.

"They have the contracts that are very clear on KPIs and they were based on winning various tournaments."

Mazey said the Trustees have worked hard since their appointment and with World Rugby's blessings have looked at putting in place systems and a constitution that will be reviewed before it is being adopted for use for the new-look Fiji Rugby.

"There's been a lot of changes and we have set up a very powerful commercial division, commercial and broadcasting so they'll be working with people like yourself and with the broadcasters also with all their sponsors.

"We are building up on our sponsor base to make sure that Fiji Rugby is financially viable. And then as promised, in the beginning of the year, a group of people, which includes professionals, lawyers and union representatives that will be constitutional review committee, which will be looking at what will be the outcome of the new look Rugby for Fiji."

Sevens campaign

Mazey says both sevens coaches Ben Gollings and Saiasi Fuli have been reminded of the focus, which is winning the Olympic Games in 2024, while working their way through the 2023/2024 HSBC Sevens Series.

He said both coaches and squad members are regularly reviewed on performances.

The FRU Trustees Board has reminded both coaches that winning tournaments now would be good for their own KPIs and for setting the pace moving towards the Olympics.

There was a post by a local Fijian TV station at the weekend that men's coach Gollings had been given an ultimatum to win either in Dubai or Cape Town if he wants his contract renewed.

"I don't know where they got that information from because not once have, they tried to interview us at all or speak to us," he said.

"The Board meets with all our coaches when they return from any tournament, we've had a policy of of doing this right from word go. So when Ben came back after the Oceania Sevens we sat down with them and we did have a talk to him.

"And we did express our desire that he won in Cape Town and Dubai as and reminded him of his KPIs.

"Our discussions with the team, and I've met with the team twice now both times we've said that we want to see as winning and to build up towards the Olympics, which is our main goal this year.

"We're aiming to go to Paris and win both men and women, so the coaches are reminded of this at all times."

The Fijian teams did not make it to both division finals in Dubai. They will both be in action again at the Cape Town event this weekend.

Tuwai likely to miss out

Meanwhile, former men's sevens captain and two-time Olympic champion Jerry Tuwai might miss out of the Olympic Games and the HSBC Sevens Series.

Mazey said Tuwai's selection or non-selection would depend on the coach.

"My understanding is that he hasn't been attending any camps that have been held late this year, prior to even going to Oceania.

"And we have endeavoured to have a couple of meetings but we haven't been able to do that since he was travelling."

Tuwai is now running his own boxing promotion business in Suva and has also been signed up by major hardware company Vinod Patel to be their brand ambassador.

Mazey revealed though that the Board has had discussions with Tuwai on assisting women's coach Fuli.

He said they will await an update from the player on his thoughts about the assist women's coach role.

Flying Fijians coach

In another development, Mazey confirmed the FRU is now calling for applications from those wanting to become the new Flying Fijians' head coach to replace Simon Raiwalui.

Raiwalui has not renewed his contract with the FRU, taking up a new contract with World Rugby instead.

Mazey said they hope to appoint the new coach by end of January 2024.

"We're going through an international agency as we wanted that to be done independently," he added.

The coach will be paid for by the Fijian Government, through the Fiji Sports Commission, as are other national coaches in Fiji.

Mazey said Assistant Flying Fijians coach Senirusi Seruvakula, who is acting in the position, and other Fijian coaches across the rugby world have also been encouraged to apply.

"We are encouraging everybody to apply, especially our locals because people forget that we do have Fijian coaches that are doing very well overseas."

The FRU is also expected to announce this week the Fijiana Drua's inclusion in the Drua franchise, in preparation for the new 2024 Super W Rugby Competition.

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