Despite failing to convince World Rugby to let Fiji host a leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the reigning Olympic champions are confident of ‘sharing’ a tournament with New Zealand from 2020.
It would mean the current Series leg in Hamilton would alternate with a venue in Fiji, giving the Pacific Island a chance to build on their case to have an 11th leg of the competition added to the calendar.
Fiji Rugby submitted a bid last year proposing a new leg to be played in October as a new opening round to the season, but World Rugby decided the current structure will remain in place for the next four years.
FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean told RNZ: “We understand that player welfare concerns drove the decision by World Rugby not to expand the Series beyond its existing ten tournaments, and we respect that decision.
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“We are humbled and grateful to New Zealand Rugby for offering to alternate hosting of their leg of the tournament with Fiji and appreciate the trust our rugby brothers are showing in our capability to do so. We have held productive discussions with NZR for some time, including the hosting of World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby representatives for site reviews and discussions in the past weeks.
“We are certain a HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Fiji will have the full support of Government and together with the people of Fiji, will deliver a unique experience for the players in hosting a successful tournament for World Rugby. As they do at many existing tournaments in the series, Fijian fans will turn out in their thousands to support their team, and we expect to attract large volumes of overseas rugby fans to experience Fiji’s hospitality and passion for sevens rugby.
“We still have a lot of work to get this over the line and our priority is to continue to work very hard to ensure we achieve full compliance for World Rugby and NZ Rugby compliance requirements in the next month, and we look forward to then making further announcements about hosting the tournament in due course.”
FRU Chief Executive John O’Connor said it was an exciting time for Fiji rugby: “We are grateful to NZR for offering to alternate the hosting of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens with Fiji and we’re confident of delivering an amazing experience for everyone involved.”
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