Fiji find $11m to fund their Rugby World Cup challenge despite union debts

Fiji rugby chiefs have revealed they have ring fenced a budget of £3.8m (Fiji$11m) to help the Flying Fijians make an impact at the Rugby World Cup in France despite the union facing worrying debts.
An investigation into the Union’s financial troubles has seen debts of £1.2 million (Fiji $ 3.5m) uncovered, however, FRU board of trustees chairperson Peter Mazey told the Fiji Times, head coach Simon Raiwalui and his players had not been impacted as they prepare to face England on Saturday in their final warm up game.
Fiji’s unbeaten Pacific Nations Cup campaign and their training camp in France before they lost to the World Cup hosts last weekend and the RWC tournament were all included in the budget. Fiji are in the same pool as Wales, Australia, Georgia and Portugal at the World Cup.
Before the PNC victories the FRU increased the daily payment to each player to £172 ($500), and despite this boost the players can only dream about the kind of money England’s squad members players receive with a match fee of £23,000 per player boosting their bank balances.
Mazey said: “The support from the trustees has been considerable and one of the first meeting we held in May was with Simon, and to learn of the challenges he had at that late stage.
“However, working together we were not only able to ensure he had the technical team he wanted, but more importantly to put together a budget for the whole campaign, and then to ensure that the funding for it was arranged before they left Fiji.
“A total budget of approximately $11 million for the whole campaign. “It was not an easy task but with this in place, Simon could do his job without that worry and over the past few weeks we have seen the results of a well-planned and funded campaign.
“Everyone knows the problem we face at Rugby House with long outstanding debts but the funding for all our campaigns this year has been kept separate and we are extremely grateful to our major sponsors especially of the Flying Fijians being FIJI Water, but also to the others that have come on board including Fiji Airways and World Rugby, but most importantly also to Government for their ongoing support and grant.”
FIJI Water have helped the FRU by agreeing a sponsorship deal worth £1.36m (Fijian$3.8 m) to support the team in France.
Mazey praised the commitment and effort of Raiwalui, his coaches and the team despite the loss to hosts Fance. “Having just witnessed the game against France, I cannot be so impressed with the development and achievements of our FIJI Water Flying Fijians, they have made us proud every step of the way. We must thank them all for the incredible effort they have all made, their fitness and performance is to be admired and each game gets better.
“Simon has put together a great team in his coaching and technical official’s team and they deserve a lot of thanks for their commitment to Fiji. I can’t wait until we meet England now and can’t wait until they peak at the World Cup.”

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