Fiji rugby officials are negotiating with two French clubs in an attempt to get Aminiasi Tuimaba and Filimoni Botitu released to help Gareth Baber’s team defend the Olympic Games 7s gold medal in Japan next year.
Tuimaba has signed for Pau while Botitu is now a Castres player and they have been given dispensation by the Fiji Rugby Union to take up their professional contracts in France due to the postponement of the Games which should have take place this summer but the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has forced a delay of twelve months.
There are four remaining legs of this year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris – and a decision about the feasibility of international travel to those legs will be made shortly.
For Tuimaba and Botitu, the chance to help defend Fiji’s first gold medal won in Rio in 2016 remains a top priority despite their moves to France.
Tuimaba told the Fiji Times: “We still want to play for Fiji in the Olympics and we have discussed this with our clubs if we could be released to play in the Olympics.
“Every rugby player’s dream is to play in the Olympics and we have asked our clubs if we are able to be released to train and represent our country in the Olympic Games. To be an Olympian is an honour, but to win a gold medal for my country would be a dream come true.”
Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor confirmed talks with Pau and Castres were ongoing to try and secure an agreement to release the players for the Olympic Games campaign which is likely to involve Tuimaba and Botitu playing in sevens series events leading into Japan.
Botitu and Tuimaba are part of the national sevens training squad and could play in one of the remaining tournaments of the World Rugby Sevens Series before the clubs fly over when the restrictions are lifted,” said O’Connor.
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