Ryan says Fiji sevens should split from FRU

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

For­mer Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan yes­ter­day said the team he led to Olympic glory should split from the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) to en­sure they are prop­erly man­aged.

Ryan said play­ers in the world cham­pion team that won gold when rugby sevens made its Olympic de­but in Rio were cur­rently off-con­tract and only be­ing paid a mod­est per diem al­lowance for their ser­vices. The English­man, who left his post af­ter the Games, ques­tioned the FRU’s han­dling of the team. “What does alarm me is we have one of the most mar­ketable, iconic sports team­s­they won back-to-back World Se­ries ti­tles, (they are) Olympic gold medal­lists,” he told the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

“If we can’t mar­ket them prop­erly and get their value and what they’re worth so the boys and the pro­gramme can get the money and re­sources that they need, then I think it’s time for us to look at the whole sys­tem.”

He sug­gested Fiji sevens should be­come a com­mer­cial en­tity sep­a­rate from the FRU. “It would be run com­mer­cially, trans­par­ently and for the first time you would get proper fund­ing com­ing in with­out any wor­ries around gov­er­nance, hav­ing to pay off debt from var­i­ous other things,” he said. “If the gov­ern­ment ac­tu­ally pushed this, if they de­cided we’d be bet­ter off hav­ing an in­de­pen­dent com­mer­cial fran­chise, backed by World Rugby and the gov­ern­ment and the FRU, it would be a hugely pop­u­lar de­ci­sion.” It is not the first time Ryan has crit­i­cised the FRU for not pay­ing its play­ers ad­e­quately, prompt­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion to hit back in a state­ment ear­lier this month. “It seems it is dif­fi­cult for him to move on,” the FRU said, ex­press­ing dis­ap­point­ment at his “con­stant re­marks” about the team.

Sevens is Fiji’s na­tional sport and the team were given a rap­tur­ous re­cep­tion af­ter win­ning the Pa­cific na­tion’s first ever Olympic medal in Rio. — AFP

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