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Fiji rocked by 3 sackings as CEO takes 'annual leave' as internal audit launched

By Chris Jones
Fiji captain Leone Nakarawa dejected after another All Blacks try. All Blacks v Fiji, Steinlager Series, international rugby union test match. FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Saturday 17 July 2021. © Copyright Photo: Bruce Lim / www.photosport.nz

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The Fiji Rugby Union is conducting an internal investigation with three staff members sacked while John O’Connor, the chief executive, has agreed to take annual leave.

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Over the years various Pacific Islands rugby unions have faced investigations over the financial handling of their affairs and now Fiji is dealing with speculation and rumour at a time when its sevens team is preparing for the World in South Africa next month. The move comes just a year away from the Rugby World Cup in France.

Against a backdrop of growing uncertainty, FRU chairperson Commodore Humphrey Tawake said the board was planning to conduct an internal audit.“We had to terminate three staff members and I cannot divulge the names or the offences now due to investigations being conducted,” said Tawake. He insisted CEO John O’Connor had not been suspended, but said he was away on “annual leave”.

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National operations manager Sale Sorovaki has relieved O’Connor to ensure operations and domestic competitions remain unaffected.

The FRU issued a statement to try and end speculation which read: “Following the discovery of certain breaches of internal processes, Fiji Rugby Union has terminated three staff last week, and this has promoted the FRU Board to also bring forward an audit that was scheduled for later on in the year as part of operations.

“While addressing the media during a press conference this afternoon, FRU Board Chairman Commodore Humphrey Tawake said that they were conscious of social media speculations leading to misinformation, especially with FRU CEO Mr. O’Connor. In that regard, Commodore Tawake said: “An audit is part of the everyday business function and for Fiji Rugby to facilitate that immediately, FRU CEO has volunteered to take annual leave to allow for the process to happen seamlessly”.

FRU’s National Operations Manager, Mr. Sale Sorovaki will relieve the CEO for the next few weeks commencing from today so that FRU’s operations and domestic competitions remain unaffected.

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Commodore Tawake further stated that “at this stage, there everything remains and operates as normal. We have just completed our provincial tournaments and have now moved our focus to the schools’ competitions. The daily operation at Rugby House also remains normal”.

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