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Play for the love of 7s

Elenoa Baselala And Nasik Swami
Monday, February 19, 2018

FIJIAN sevens rugby fans believe our national reps should play for the love of the sport and not money.

A Tebbutt-Times poll carried out earlier this month showed that 80 per cent of Fijians shared this view.

The same poll had revealed that 90 per cent of Fijians thought our national 7s rugby players deserved a pay increase.

However, while they believed there should be a pay increase, the motivating factor to play 7s rugby should be the players' love of the sport and not money.

The Fiji Rugby Union was sent questions last Friday (February 9) but we didn't receive a response from the Rugby House.

FRU CEO John O'Connor said on Saturday in a brief telephone interview that the poll report was "not factual".

"The report is not factual," Mr O'Connor said.

"The players and I have an understanding that we will look into (contracts) and the contracts are confidential. We don't want to comment," he said.

Our questions to FRU were on whether paying salaries and allowances has had an impact on players' performances; what is the current allowance of players; what's the cost to FRU to have our team participate in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series; whether the FRU benefits financially from the series; how much is the bonus for players when they win a tournament and whether there would be an increase in allowances during the Commonwealth Games in April and the World Cup 7s in July.

We also asked the FRU on what were its challenges in ensuring that Fiji was abreast with the "professional" world of rugby.

Fiji has some of the world's best sevens players, who receive a much lower salary than other top sevens rugby players.

Despite this our national sevens team has created world history by being the first Olympics champion and also twice world series champions in a row.

Fiji's performance is always different at the Hong Kong 7s which has been acknowledged by USA coach Mike Friday who said it's Fiji's blue ribbon event.

Except for 2014, Fiji had been undefeated at the tournament since 2012.

If the team wins HK 7s, it will be the first country to do so in four years.

As Friday says, Hong Kong 7s is Fiji's holy grail.

But while we can safely say that our national players do play for the love of the sport, we must remember the words of the maestro of the sport, Waisale Serevi who said "they must be treated well as they also have families to look after".

The fate of rugby greats Jonah Lomu and Joost Van Der Westhuizen, he said, were good examples of why rugby players' welfare was important.

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