Fiji have turned down a request for around 200 sevens coaches to help develop the sport in China following a US$4m cash boost for the shortened version of the game in that country.
Peter Mazey, the Fiji National Sports Commission chairman, said the request had been impossible for the reigning Olympic Sevens champions to grant as Fiji “had only three coaches who were accredited with level three qualifications”.
The move highlights China’s determination to make an impact in Sevens following the sport’s successful introduction to the Olympic Games when Fiji won 2016 gold in Rio. They will now defend their title at the 2020 Games in Japan.
Chinese rugby authorities will have to look elsewhere for technical help, though, with Mazey telling the Fiji Sun: “On a recent trip we were told that China is developing sevens rugby in a big way and the Alibaba company had approximately put in $US4million (FJ$8m) into the sport.
“They asked us if Fiji could supply about 200 coaches which was impossible for us as we had only three coaches who were accredited with level three qualifications.”
Meanwhile, Fiji XV coach John McKee has completed his fact-finding mission to Japan in preparation for his team’s 2019 World Cup campaign, a tournament his players will assemble for in July with preparations beginning with an intensive training camp and pre-tournament Test matches.
McKee said: “All the venues are coming together now and we have visited our team bases around Japan to make sure all the logistics are in place. I’m pretty happy with most of the things that are developing up there.
“There’s no easy road in the World Cup and we know we have got a lot of work to do in our preparation, but if we work really hard and get everything right we can be successful in the final phases of the tournament.”
WATCH: Part two of The Academy, the RugbyPass documentary series on Leicester Tigers
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