The Fijian Rugby Union had to dish out a whopping NZ$250,000 match fee to host the Maori All Blacks in 2019, it has been revealed.

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The Maori played Fiji in a two-match home and away series in 2019. Fiji won the first game in Suva, with the Maori taking the honours in the return leg in Rotorua. The match was pitched as an effort to give the increasingly competitive island nation a high-level Test match prior to the World Cup and an opportunity to generate their own revenues – but it seems have come at considerable cost to the union.

Speaking in a Q & A with The Fiji Sun, CEO John O’Connor and chairman Francis Kean outlined how hosting the Maori actually left the union out of pocket.

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“Further, whenever our two big brothers have assisted us, it was at no cost to them but a financial burden to FRU, SRU and TRU.

“When we played the All Blacks Maori in Fiji, last year, we had to pay a match fee of NZ$250k, flights and accommodation which in the end meant a financial burden on the home hosting Pacific Union.

“We have not played the mighty All Blacks and the Wallabies in Fiji for quite some time and this is not because of lack of trying or negotiations but because we cannot afford the match fee that is required for us to pay to make such match happen.”

The match fees demanded by the NZR for the Maori All Blacks are in stark contrast to the meagre sums afforded to Fiji and other Pacific Islands nations when they travel to Tier one nations in November. Typically their fees barely cover the financial burden of the trip, and many Pacific island players ultimately end up paying for the privilege of being involved in the tours.

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“We had only one meeting the French Rugby president and his team agreed that their national team will play a test match against the Flying Fijians in 2022, in Fiji.”

The Fijian Rugby Union (FRU) are pushing to have more Fijian qualified players involved with Super Rugby side in Australia and New Zealand. “Our request to both NZRU and RA prior to COVID-19 was five players in NZ and four in Australia under each of the franchises.”

“We [are] cognizant of the fact that these two Unions see our countries like great Rugby Academies (including Samoa and Tonga) to search for talent.

“Whether these two Unions will allow this to happen is something we await with anticipation and hope; the great thing is that we have made our intentions known to them both and we will persist.”

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