Troubled Fiji back on course  for World Cup rehabilitation

Rugby union correspondent

The organisers of next year’s home World Cup were in full “500 days to go” mode at Twickenham, announcing details of ticket sales, trophy tour dates and volunteering programmes.

But perhaps most importantly, the International Rugby Board chief executive, Brett Gosper, indicated that Fiji, that most troubled of sporting countries, would be back in everyone’s good books in time to play in the tournament – a relief, given that they are scheduled to be England’s first opponents.

All direct cash support from the governing body was frozen in January due to serious concerns over the Fijian union’s performance in a variety of areas, including governance and financial control.

There have also been problems with the Pacific island’s seven-a-side team, which will not be at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, despite being the biggest box-office attraction in the sport.

Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth, imposed as a result of the country’s military coup in 2006, was partially lifted earlier this year in recognition of progress towards a restoration of democracy, but the draw for the sevens competition had already been made and there was no room for adjustment.

Happily for all concerned, there is an easing of the tension created by recent events. The Fijians have decided against staging a boycott of the Commonwealth Games across all sports, although they remain bitterly upset at the exclusion of their pride and joy, the sevens team.

As for World Cup participation – their final qualification match against the Cook Islands takes place in Lautoka next month and they are expected to win by a landslide – Gosper said moves were afoot to smooth their path towards the England game in 16 months’ time.

“We did suspend funding for Fiji, but there have been meetings recently and that suspension will soon be lifted,” he confirmed. “They’ve taken significant strides towards putting their house in order and their finances are in much better shape, not least because they’ve just agreed a big  sponsorship deal.

“It’s not as if we’ve taken money away from them; it was frozen, and it was always our intention to release the funds once the necessary improvements were made.”

Fiji may well suffer a loss soon, however – and a damaging one, too. Nathan Hughes, the No 8 from Lautoka who has made such an impact with Wasps over the last few weeks, is currently weighing up his options at international level and there is no guarantee he will commit himself to his homeland, who would certainly pick him for their European tour this autumn, if not for the Cook Islands game. Under IRB regulations, Hughes will be eligible for England in 2016. “It’s a decision for him,” Gosper said.

Wasps, who face Stade Français in a home-and-away play-off for the final place in next season’s inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup, will host the ambitious Parisians at Adams Park a week on Sunday, with the return leg the following Saturday. 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee