Fiji Rugby: Unrest in Paradise?

Update: The Council of the Fiji Rugby Union has weighed in with what looks like a vote of no confidence in the Directors of the Fiji Rugby Union and is now claiming that the FRU is using the IRB’s interest in the case as a way to get around the FRU’s constitution.  And according to the story, the directors of the FRU report to the Council, not the IRB. Curiouser and curiouser…

The International Rugby Board has upped the ante in the growing Fijian rugby crisis, announcing that Fiji’s national team will not be allowed in the upcoming Rugby World Cup should the forced resignations of the Fijian Rugby Union board go through in “contravention of the constitution of the FRU.” The IRB has asked the members of the Fijian Rugby Union board who were told to resign not to give in to pressure from Fiji’s military-led government.

According to Reuters Africa:

The IRB also warned the FRU they faced a ban if they did not adhere to their constitution.

“Any action in contravention of the constitution of the FRU will result in the Union potentially not remaining in good standing as a member of the Union of the IRB which may result in the IRB having to take a determination on the continued membership of the IRB of the FRU,” the IRB’s letter said.

On the other side of the argument, the Fijian government has stated that the country provide the necessary funds (Fijian $3 million, approx US$1.6 million) for the team’s 2011 Rugby World Cup preparation.

The crisis started when Fiji’s Rugby Union help a lottery to raise money for the 2011 World Cup, but money from that lottery was unaccounted for, or spent on perks for board members – including a trip for one of them to the Hong Kong Sevens tournament.

This is not the first time in recent months that the Fijian rugby team has found themselves in the crosshairs of international pressure because of actions by the government.

Fiji was banned from last year’s Commonwealth Games due to international political concerns in the island nation.  Does this potential RWC ban also mean that Fiji will be ejected from the remaining World Sevens Series competitions if these resignations go through?


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