Fiji’s new strategy to improve 15-man game and it could be bad news for 7’s
The Fiji Rugby Union is taking steps to control the country’s love of Sevens which it believes is hampering attempts to make the country a force in the 15-a-side game with national selectors only attending sanctioned events in future.
Fiji, the reigning Olympic sevens champions, will create an official window for the popular shorter version of the sport in the country from November to March every year. This was confirmed by FRU chief executive officer John O’Connor because of what he insisted to local media there was a great need for FRU to sanction all 7s tournament within a defined period.
O’Connor indicated that unions had raised their concerns at the number of 7s tournament organised around the country which was hurting the preparation of players for the 15s season. The FRU is concerned that the number of sevens events were a distraction and many did not comply with minimum safety and player welfare requirements.
“We want the players to have proper rest after each season and have a proper off season programme so they perform well in our domestic competitions and compete for positions in the Under-20, the Fiji Warriors and likewise get contracted for the Fiji Drua,” said O’Connor.
“Unions had raised their serious concerns during our special general meeting when we laid out the fifteens season to the union representatives and asked them if they could ensure that their players have time to rest or recuperate and have a good off-season since FRU were concerned about their players welfare.
“We at FRU also received complaints on how some of these tournaments were organised. It’s things like the winning teams not getting their prize-money, referees not being paid, no proper medical personal on the ground and so forth.
“Also our national 7s coaches will only be at our sanctioned tournaments to scout for potential players,” O’Connor said.
”FRU is in collaboration with the Fiji Rugby Referees Association, it will ensure that only registered match officials will officiate in the sanctioned tournaments.”