Proposal To Create 'Super Rugby' Franchise In Fiji Revealed

Plan could help stem the Pacific player drain to overseas clubs

By Maikeli Seru

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 16, 2016) – A revolutionary plan is being worked on to establish a Super Rugby franchise in Fiji.

The plan is being worked on to end player drain from Pacific Island countries including Fiji. Details of the proposal were revealed yesterday by London's Daily Telegraph which reported that the plan to establish the franchise had already secured more than $F52 million ($NZ35m) [US$24.7 m] backing.

"We have not done enough for our rugby in the last 100 years and this is the best we can ask for," he said.

"This will not only benefit rugby, it will benefit the nation, all religion, race and most importantly our economy.

"It is more than what we can imagine. Before we go always abroad asking for help and send our players overseas to play, but this proposal will allow things to come to our doorsteps. We should, as a nation, support Ben Ryan in this because we will all benefit."

The Daily Telegraph report says that more than four global companies and two leading kit manufacturers have pledged to fund the proposal to create "the best club side in world rugby" on the island.

The new team, which could be operational by 2018, would be based in a new 20,000 seat stadium included in plans to develop the Port Denarau Marina in Fiji, close to the island's airport in Nadi.

Ryan, the Englishman who guided Fiji to their historic first Olympic gold medal when they defeated Great Britain in the 7s rugby final in Rio, says the move would be a "world game changer".

About 19 per cent of professional players worldwide are Pacific Islanders or of Pacific Islands descent.

"I believe the impact of this plan would see Fiji win the World Cup one day," the Daily Telegraph quoted Ryan, who is spearheading the initiative.

"We have shown in sevens what we can do. And if you just look at the impact the Fiji players are having on the tier one countries, they are their star players in New Zealand, Australia, England and France.

"That generation has gone but the future players are there and we have to make sure they stay on the island and they get the right resource, the right coaching and the fundamentals around it, like we did with the sevens, so there is no reason why we can't dominate.

"It is not pie in the sky. Pick a world XV from the players that are playing outside Fiji and Samoa in the other international teams and you would get a team that is there or thereabouts.

"We have got some of the biggest companies in the world backing this. They have ties with the Pacific Islands. I have had conversations and we have got money on the table to be able to pay for all of this. We will have more money behind the team than any other Super Rugby franchise.

"We could make them the best club side in the world. Imagine the talent that we have got in France. They would all be on the first flightback," Ryan told the London media organisation.

Meanwhile, Ryan is believed to have offered to help the Vodafone Fiji 7s team as technical adviser in the Dubai and Cape Town Sevens in South Africa.

Fiji One last night reported that interim coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka has revealed that Ryan would help them in the first two legs.

While Fiji Rugby Union CEO John O'Connor was tied up in a meeting last night, Nadroga Rugby Union president Tiko Matawalu said Fiji should support the initiative.

"We have not done enough for our rugby in the last 100 years and this is the best we can ask for," he said.

"This will not only benefit rugby, it will benefit the nation, all religion, race and most importantly our economy.

"It is more than what we can imagine. Before we always go abroad asking for help and send our players overseas to play, but this proposal will allow things to come to our doorsteps. We should, as a nation, support Ben Ryan in this because we will all benefit."

The Daily Telegraph report says that more than four global companies and two leading kit manufacturers have pledged to fund the proposal to create "the best club side in world rugby" on the island.

The new team, which could be operational by 2018, would be based in a new 20,000 seat stadium included in plans to develop the Port Denarau Marina in Fiji, close to the island's airport in Nadi.

Ryan, the Englishman who guided Fiji to their historic first Olympic gold medal when they defeated Great Britain in the 7s rugby final in Rio, says the move would be a "world game changer".

About 19 per cent of professional players worldwide are Pacific Islanders or of Pacific Islands descent.

"I believe the impact of this plan would see Fiji win the World Cup one day," the Daily Telegraph quoted Ryan, who is spearheading the initiative.

"We have shown in sevens what we can do. And if you just look at the impact the Fiji players are having on the tier one countries, they are their star players in New Zealand, Australia, England and France.

"That generation has gone but the future players are there and we have to make sure they stay on the island and they get the right resource, the right coaching and the fundamentals around it, like we did with the sevens, so there is no reason why we can't dominate.

"It is not pie in the sky. Pick a world XV from the players that are playing outside Fiji and Samoa in the other international teams and you would get a team that is there or thereabouts.

"We have got some of the biggest companies in the world backing this. They have ties with the Pacific Islands. I have had conversations and we have got money on the table to be able to pay for all of this. We will have more money behind the team than any other Super Rugby franchise.

"We could make them the best club side in the world. Imagine the talent that we have got in France. They would all be on the first flightback," Ryan told the London media organisation.

Meanwhile, Ryan is believed to have offered to help the Vodafone Fiji 7s team as technical adviser in the Dubai and Cape Town Sevens in South Africa.

Fiji One last night reported that interim coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka has revealed that Ryan would help them in the first two legs.

Fiji Times Online.
Copyright © 2016 Fiji Times Online. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment