By Lee Stace
YOU'VE GOT to love Fiji rugby at the moment.
Not only does the Fiji Rugby Union have a battle on its hands with the New Zealand Government over political sanctions, but now it does not have enough moolah to even send a team to the Rugby World Cup later this year.
For those who missed it, the Pacific Island nation needs F$5 million to properly prepare a 30-man squad for the seven-week tournament. The 2007 RWC quarter-finalists also have no major sponsor.
But hang on. Didn’t Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s military-led regime promise the FRU a funding package of F$3 million, provided it sacked the previous board, which had been in dispute with the country’s leaders over the mismanagement of a RWC lottery?
He most certainly did. And you’d think with all his military cronies now calling the shots at the FRU since its April 30 board meeting, the money would’ve been deposited into its account and everything would be chipper.
Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. The military regime approved the release of the first F$400,000 from the promised fund, but it remains unclear whether the union has received the money or if the remainder will be paid.
There is also the money raised from the lottery.
An investigation by the Fiji Commerce Commission earlier this year found nearly half the funds were unaccounted for. Some of the money is believed to have be spent by previous FRU board members to attend sevens tournaments in Hong Kong and Scotland.
Whatever way you look at it, Fiji rugby is boarding on comical at the moment. So much so that the International Rugby Board must be seriously considering showing them the door.
What do you think? Is Fiji becoming the laughing stock of world rugby?
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.