Fiji players hold talks with union as jersey row continues
Fiji rugby chiefs are in discussions with their players ahead of the second All Blacks test in Hamilton on Saturday to try and resolve a row over a message supporting Covid-19 vaccinations in the Pacific Islands nation that was supposed to be on the front of the jerseys for the first test.
However, there was concern amongst members of the squad over that message which was to replace the normal Fiji Airways logo across the front of the jersey. As a result, the players wore a “clean” jersey in the 57-23 loss to the All Blacks in Dunedin and head coach Vern Cotter admitted the decision to put the vaccination message on the kit had taken the players by surprise.
FRU executive John O’Connor told SunSport: “We are disappointed that we were not able to honour the wishes of our sponsor but some of the players had expressed concern about having the Vaccinate Fiji message on the playing jerseys. And in order to accommodate those concerns and not compromise our focus on a respectable performance, we decided to play with clean jerseys.
“We will discuss those concerns in coming days and decide how best to promote the message in Hamilton.”
The FRU released a statement on Friday announcing the decision and unveiled a ‘Flying Fijians’ special jersey with a COVID-19 advisory for the historic two-match series against the All Blacks.
Cotter told the media after the first test: “That’s a really complex question and the answers are complex as well. We have not really got the full answer. It was sprung on the players quite late in the piece, and there wasn’t a lot of exchange on consultation.
“As you can imagine, it’s a delicate subject for some, so it was probably better to just have a clean jersey at this stage, and spend some time on how we best want to communicate on this matter and how comfortable the players are in communicating it.
“For everybody Covid’s hard, it has changed the way everybody lived all over the world. These players are based in Europe and are living with it every day, Fiji is now getting struck with it, it is going through a lot of countries, it is a sensitive issue.”
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