Fiji might only play in a new series of matches involving Six Nations teams and will not become part of the main championship, the BBC has reported, despite the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) saying it is on the verge of joining the annual competition.

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FRU chief John O’Connor said in a statement that Fiji rugby had opportunities “which we could only dream of in the past. We are on the verge of joining the Six Nations rugby competition and have Super Rugby New Zealand and Australia knocking on our doors.”

However, the BBC said a Six Nations representative had confirmed the Pacific Islanders might only be involved in a new series involving England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and France at the end of 2020. 

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This year’s delayed Six Nations is set to resume in October following the Covid-19 shutdown, the four remaining matches to be played on October 24 and 31. 

That will then be followed by a new set of international matches involving the northern hemisphere teams – along with Fiji and one other country – to be played in Europe from November 14 to December 5 after World Rugby recommended a revised Test match calendar.

This window extends for a further weekend in the southern hemisphere to include the staging of the Rugby Championship in a single country (most likely New Zealand).

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However, the revised schedule could yet prove problematic as the governing bodies representing the leagues in England and France, Premiership Rugby and Ligue Nationale du Rugby, have already outlined dissatisfaction with the extended Test calendar and could refuse to release players to play for their countries. 

Aside from affecting England and France, any lack of compliance is something that would also impact heavily on Fiji, for instance, as well as the Springboks who have multiple players playing in those leagues. 

O’Connor’s claims about Fiji and the Six Nations were included in the statement accompanying the news that controversial administrator Francis Kean was to step down from his position as Fiji union chairman.

O’Connor said Kean, who has been the subject of a serious of damaging headlines around the world after his involvement in the recent World Rugby elections, would rotate out from the Fiji board and be replaced by Conway Beg.

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Kean had stepped down from the World Rugby council in April and withdrew his nomination for the global governing body’s executive committee after allegations of discrimination were published by The Sunday Times.

– AAP, additional reporting RugbyPass

 

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