$100m from rugby - Solomon Star News

$100m from rugby

21 June 2016

SUVA, (FIJI TIMES) - Fijian rugby players are more in demand overseas as they are renowned for their pace, skills and hard running rugby.

The game of rugby has injected a lot of money into the country from rugby players around the world.

In 2015, about $100 million (US$50 million) was raked into the country by the players alone through remittances.

This was confirmed by Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou in Suva.

"Fiji is only the country in the region who regard sports very important," he said.

"Last year rugby alone brought $100m into the country by the rugby players who are playing overseas.

"It is very good for a country like Fiji. Fiji Government regards sports as a form of employment. It is important to get the raw talents and develop them for future."

There are 27 Fijian players playing rugby in France including La Rochelle centre Lepani Botia, Waisea Nayacalevu, Samisoni Viriviri, Joshua Tuisova and Narbonne's Sunia Koto to name a few.

The demand was expected to grow more if Vodafone Fiji 7s team manages to win their first gold medal for Fiji in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

He said through rugby many had improved their lifestyle.

"It also improved the standard of living and their livelihood from the money and they supported their families through remittances," he added.

"It was a record from Reserve Bank of Fiji. These players are from France, Super Rugby, Japan and other countries.

"Coach John McKee is trying to make his 2019 squad and he had been locating all these players playing around. France have a lot of money at the provincial level compared to Australia and New Zealand. Once it goes to national level then there is a different story."

Tuitubou was also optimistic of Fiji's chances to host an overseas event from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

"We are hoping that we would host a tournament from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as mentioned by the World Rugby," he said.

"This was only possible after Fiji won the series title back to back.

"They will look into it."

Meanwhile, Fiji 7s team had stepped up their preparation for the Olympics.