The Fiji Times
Fiji rugby a long-term asset
SIX Nations organisers have confirmed to RugbyPass that Fiji won’t be joining the tournament on an annual basis after a statement from the Fiji Rugby Union.
Fiji have apparently secured an invitational to participate in an eight-team tournament next November that will replace the original Test schedule featuring the likes of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa visiting Europe.
However, while Six Nations have insisted the likely invitation to the Fijians is a one-off, their inclusion highlights how vital players from the Pacific Island nations are to the club game in the northern hemisphere.
Fiji’s situation with the Six Nations got lost in translation in midweek when John O’Connor, the FRU’s chief executive, appeared to suggest the country were about to leapfrog Georgia into the tournament.
A spokesperson for the Six Nations told RugbyPass on Friday: “Fiji will not be joining the Six Nations Championship but they may be one of the teams participating in an autumn competition.”
Fiji and Georgia are said to be poised to line up with the Six Nations in a one-off competition featuring two pools of four teams, with the top two meeting in a final at Twickenham on December 5.
While they are not wanted permanently, what the impending invite for Fiji highlights is how their squad is very much European-based and they would be a handy doorstep addition to the Six Nations if they were ever asked back.
In the buildup to last year’s World Cup in Japan, Fiji held a three-day camp in Toulouse for their European-based players with 33 attending under head coach John McKee who has since been replaced by Vern Cotter.
That European-based preWorld Cup camp involved 19 players who were based in France and 14 from England and Scotland.