Sport: Fiji Rugby Union criticises its treatment by the IRB
The Fiji Rugby Union responds to the IRB's decision to suspend funding to the national union and the decision to sack the national fifteens coach.
The Fiji Rugby Union says it is completely focussed on solving the financial crisis within the administration and it will reengage with the International Rugby Board on its own terms.
Earlier this month the IRB suspended direct funding of more than 1.5 million US dollars to the Union, citing its failure to implement key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Rugby Union, Dr Berlin Kafoa, says the current board accepts the IRB recommendations, which arose from a major review conducted last year. He says a lot of progress had already been made but the timeframe given to them by the IRB was not realistic.
BERLIN KAFOA: The disappointment about it is the notice was given to us by IRB in December. The banning of funds was done in January [and] with the kind of review recommendations that they gave us no Union could have complete that review recommendations in one month. We had estimated that we would have completed by the end of May but that was the IRB stance, we respect it, so we just look forward on working on what we can control. Next week we will be announcing sponsorships and our target remains the same - completing all processes by May 2014.
The IRB says it is still waiting on a formal response from the Fiji Rugby Union to their letter advising of the funding suspension. Dr Kafoa says when that happens there are still some major issues to resolve.
BERLIN KAFOA: One of the absolute conditions that we will not budge on is they have appointed an IRB observer on the board without consulting us on whether the observer is needed, and then appointed a person again without consulting us, and we thought that they had crossed the line in bordering where IRB and where the FRU sovereignty as a national union.
The funding shortfall at Rugby House has already impacted both players and staff. The sevens team competed in Las Vegas over the weekend despite not being paid and this week the FRU terminated the contracts of five employees, including fifteens head coach Inoke Male. Some of the positions have been made redundant, some will be re-advertised while the responsibilities of others have been absorbed by current staff. The board believes a new coach will help them compete with tier one nations like Wales and France and Dr Kafoa says personal issues and recommendations from the IRB review also contributed to the decision. Inoke Male says he was shocked by his dismissal and still believes he is the right man to lead the team.
INOKE MALE: Yes, especially because I've got the heart to coach Fiji because what they put in the termination letter is not relevant to what I've done. They had a dismal performance in 2011 [at the Rugby World Cup]. I've brought the level of Fiji Rugby from 16th to 11th. They have tried to terminate - they said it's a recommendation from their review, that I've not got enough experience to coach the international level.
Dr Kafoa says the Fiji Sports Commission has approved a grant to cover the salary of a new coach, the same as what was arranged for sevens head coach Ben Ryan and the Fiji Netball coach.
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