The row over Francis Kean’s failed bid to join the World Rugby executive committee continues in Fiji with former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka demanding to know why the country’s rugby brand had been damaged by the “ugly controversy”. Rabuka, now Fiji’s opposition leader, questioned whether the Fiji Rugby Union board had met and discussed Kean’s nomination which was withdrawn in the face of media revelations about his conviction for manslaughter.

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Rabuka issued a statement carried in the Fiji Times saying: “This ugly controversy cast a negative image of Fiji Rugby and our rugby “brand”, which hundreds of players and officials have worked hard to build over many decades. I believe many other deserving candidates should have been tabled and considered by the FRU board before this nomination was made.

“As a former national rugby representative and Fiji Rugby Union trustee, I’ve always been proud of our rugby union body and our national teams. The sportsmanship of our national teams make them exemplary ambassadors for Fiji. Therefore, I was very disappointed to learn of the controversy caused and an investigation into the current president of the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) and Francis B Kean, by World Rugby.

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“Kean has been nominated by the French Rugby Union Body for election to the World Rugby Executive Committee. Since then World Rugby has received complaints alleging homophobia and discrimination. A statement from World Rugby confirms “rugby is a sport built on strong and inclusive values and the organisation does not in any way condone abusive or discriminatory behaviour.”

FRU Chief Executive Officer, John O’Connor opted to praise Kean in SunSport despite the controversy and said: “Earning a seat on the World Rugby Council has not been easy and through Commander Kean’s visionary, sound and assertive leadership since 2015 we have managed to achieve this goal. This in itself has been a milestone achievement for Fiji Rugby, something all Fijians should be proud of.

“We respect the decision taken by our Chairman and we also thank the French Rugby Union (FFR) for supporting our nomination.”

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