Leo Replies to Fiji Sun

Fiji Sun - - SPORT - DAN LEO, LON­DON SAMOAN DAN LEO IS THE PA­CIFIC RUGBY PLAY­ERS WEL­FARE CHIEF EX­EC­U­TIVE OF­FI­CER.

World Rugby are bound by this un­der­tak­ing [to have their own code of ethics or to use the IOC’s]. It, there­fore, ought to have a code of ethics in line with the IOC Code to en­sure the high­est stan­dards of in­tegrity, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity.

THE FOL­LOW­ING IS FROM A LONGER LET­TER HE SENT IN RE­SPONSE TO FIJI SUN REPORTS.

We con­tinue to press World Rugby on the sta­tus of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Fiji Rugby Union chair­man Fran­cis Kean which they promised on April 19 im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the Sun­day Times’ ex­pose.

If you are as in­ter­ested as you say in the long-term suc­cess of rugby 7s in the Olympic pro­gramme, I can guar­an­tee that the best way to achieve this is to make sure that Kean goes nowhere near the Tokyo com­pe­ti­tion.

There is noth­ing more likely to cause rugby 7s to be re­moved from the IOC sports pro­gramme than for World Rugby and the FRU to have failed to pre­vent Kean from re­ceiv­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion to the event, let alone the prob­a­ble dress­ing room and pitch ac­cess he would ex­pect and even the pos­si­bil­ity of pre­sent­ing medals.

The is so much in its own bub­ble of wish­ful think­ing.

It is a re­flec­tion that as­pects of World Rugby are past their sell-by date, with their fly-in,fly-out ex­pa­tri­ate gov­er­nance ex­perts, that Kean was able to get as far as he did. World Rugby has been mark­ing their home­work for too long and the PRPW is lead­ing the process in call­ing that out.

The USA 7s coach Mike Fri­day, a man whose ser­vice to the game I re­spect, is not across the is­sues of how much dam­age Kean is do­ing and has done to Fiji rugby. Just in the same way, I am not across the many chal­leng­ing is­sues that USA Rugby faces.

Chal­lenges

But un­like him I chose not to com­ment on what I am not fully briefed on. So I have in­vited him to study the sit­u­a­tion in Fiji be­fore he goes into bat for the cur­rent FRU chair­man.It is for rugby and all the sport’s stake­hold­ers to make their choice on Kean.

The re­spected on­line re­source ‘Rugby and the Law’ con­cluded: ‘[the fact] That Fran­cis Kean was on the Coun­cil, and was nom­i­nated for ExCo, is an em­bar­rass­ment for World Rugby. It must en­sure that this never hap­pens again.’

The blog con­cludes that ac­tu­ally World Rugby is al­ready in breach of its com­mit­ment to the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee by hav­ing no means of check­ing the suit­abil­ity for can­di­dates to serve on ei­ther the Coun­cil or Exco.

‘As an In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion recog­nised by the IOC, World Rugby are bound by this un­der­tak­ing [to have their own code of ethics or to use the IOC’s]. It, there­fore, ought to have a code of ethics in line with the IOC Code to en­sure the high­est stan­dards of in­tegrity, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity. That Fran­cis Kean was able to be­come a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Coun­cil is a damn­ing in­dict­ment of World Rugby’s fail­ure in this re­gard. care­fully be­fore chal­leng­ing me to put my money where my mouth is?

Di­rect deal­ings

It might in­ter­est your read­ers to re­flect on the last time I had any di­rect deal­ings with the FRU. Just so you can be sure in your own mind who has the best in­ter­ests of Fiji rugby and fans at heart.

In Au­gust 2018 I wrote to the FRU CEO to en­cour­age him in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms to de­mand that World Rugby re­visit the sched­ule for the 2019 Rugby World Cup as both Fiji and Samoa [yet again] had re­ceived draws that gave their Tier One group ri­vals a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage. This was more than a year be­fore the tour­na­ment.

Fiji played four Test matches in 18 days vs 20 days for Wales and Aus­tralia [Samoa was 18 days vs Scot­land and Ire­land’s 21 days]

Who knows, if Fiji had more than three days re­cov­ery time be­tween the Aus­tralia and Uruguay matches - what I was ask­ing the FRU CEO to en­sure his team had - the out­come of the whole tour­na­ment could have been different.

There is no ev­i­dence that the FRU CEO even thought to raise this sub­ject.As I said at the time, ‘wait­ing for scraps and quiv­er­ing with grat­i­tude is not the way to over­haul a sys­tem that has stripped the best from the Pa­cific and given so little back in re­turn. That is why we chose to stand united as rugby pro­fes­sion­als and proud Pa­cific Islanders, and are happy to look af­ter each other for the com­mon good. Both are ob­sta­cles to what the game of rugby needs now more than ever.

Photo: World Rugby

Fiji Air­ways Fi­jian 7s rep Asaeli Tuiv­uaka in ac­tion dur­ing the 2019-20 World Sevens Serie.

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