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Flying Fijians receive financial breakthrough with World Cup looming

By Chris Jones
Ireland v Fiji – Autumn International – Aviva Stadium

The Pacific Players Association has helped broker a daily allowance increase for the Flying Fijians achieved against the backdrop of ongoing financial problems for the Fijian Rugby Union.

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It is good news for head coach Simon Raiwalui who is preparing his players for the Pacific Nations Cup and the Rugby World Cup with training camps designed to build team spirit and an understanding of what the squad means to the Islands nation. With the FRU admitting to a significant debt and recent problems over the payment of allowances to the Fijiana squad, another pay row would have been seriously damaging to the image of the sport in the country.

However, there has now been an assurance from the Fiji Rugby Union special administrator Simione Valenitabua that allowances and bonuses are ring fenced for the men’s squad with a reported increase in the daily payment to each player from $300 to $500.

Crucially, Valenitabua told local media negotiations had been undertaken with the union, the Pacific Players Association and the players. He said: “The board and I take player welfare seriously. If they are not looked after well, they will not do well in this World Cup.

“The negotiations or the discussions on player welfare not only entail allowances, there are also various other factors that the head coach and the management have put in place to encourage the players to do well at this World Cup.

“And we can only do well if we look after our players. Everything is budgeted for and is taken care of. There’s nothing amiss about this preparation and we wouldn’t want a situation where each of these players welfare is not looked after.”

There was also good news with major distributor Punjas announcing a deal with the Fiji Rugby Union to be the naming rights sponsor of the Fiji Water Flying Fijian and Ikale Tahi Tonga Test upcoming test match on July 22 and the Vodafone Fijiana against New Zealand Women’s A Team in September.

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Turlough 5 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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