The Super Rugby Club Everyone Has Been Crying For May Be About To Happen
Plans are reportedly being put in place to finally install a Super Rugby franchise in Fiji.
The franchise is set to be created in an attempt to stem the flood of players from the Pacific Islands to the riches on offer overseas. The new team is set to receive the backing of a host of global companies and kit manufacturers, and would be based in a new 20,000-seat stadium.
Ben Ryan, the British coach who led Fiji to sevens gold at the Rio Olympics, is leading the charge to establish the team by 2018.
“I believe the impact of this plan would see Fiji win the World Cup one day,” Ryan said.
“We have shown in sevens what we can do. And if you just look at the impact the Fiji players are having on the tier one countries, they are their star players in New Zealand, Australia, England and France.
“That generation has gone but the future players are there and we have to make sure they stay on the island and they get the right resource, the right coaching and the fundamentals around it, like we did with the sevens, so there is no reason why we can’t dominate.”
The Pacific Islands of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa have long seen homegrown talent leave their shores with players taking lucrative contracts in Super Rugby and European competitions.
“If you are a young Fijian who wants to play rugby professionally as a career, you can’t stay in Fiji,” Ryan added.
“World Rugby are looking to change the residency law from three to five years, but I don’t think that will work because players will just go younger.
“For me, it comes back to giving us an opportunity on the island with a franchise. Super Rugby could own a part of it and it would keep everyone on the island and we could build academies, which would generate a pathway for players and coaches.
“Ever since I went to the island, I have been thinking about how we get Fiji, Tonga and Samoa to be consistent World Cup quarter finalists and knocking on the doors of the semifinals. The number one thing is to have a Super Rugby franchise.”
What do you think of these developments? Will it finally stem the flood of Pacific Islanders to overseas clubs?