The International Rugby Board (IRB) has brokered an agreement between the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) and the Fiji Government which will see the Government’s commitment to significant investment in Fiji’s Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign go ahead as previously planned.

The agreement follows a highly productive visit by IRB Chief Executive Mike Miller and IRB Regional General Manager for Oceania William Glenwright to Suva earlier this month after concerns were raised by the Fiji Government over the administration and governance of the FRU following the findings of a Commerce Commission of Fiji report into a lottery run by the FRU last year. The concerns put at risk a £1 million investment the Government was prepared to make towards Fiji’s Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign.

The IRB delegation met with the Minister for Sport, the Hon. Filipe Bole and the Board of the Fiji Rugby Union to discuss the Fiji Government’s concerns, its continued commitment to Fijian Rugby and issues surrounding the valid application of the FRU constitution.

“I am delighted that an agreement has been reached which will ensure that the Fiji Rugby Union can continue to drive forward the Game nationally, while also ensuring that the focus of the national team remains firmly on preparing for Rugby World Cup 2011,” said Miller.

“The spirit of the meetings was extremely positive and I would like to thank the Fiji Government for its dedication and contribution to the process and its full support of Rugby in Fiji.”

“All three parties want to ensure a framework for the Fiji National Team to perform to the best of its abilities in New Zealand and it is encouraging that we now have an agreement in place that underscores this objective. The Government’s financial support is both generous and unprecedented.”

“The Fiji Government has an obligation to ensure that any investment in Rugby is done so in a prudent manner, which the IRB supports. At the same time, as the Global Governing body, the IRB has an obligation to ensure that the sovereignty of our Member Unions is protected and the Fiji Government is fully supportive of our position. The agreement reached between the FRU and the Government protects the valid application of the FRU Constitution whilst also providing a level of comfort to the Fiji Government that its investment will be properly and transparently managed.”

The FRU and the Fiji Government have agreed five key actions:

1. Those involved in the lottery to stand down from the FRU Board pending the result of ongoing legal proceedings into the matter;
2. The Commerce Commission to release paperwork to allow the FRU to complete its lottery report, which will then be subject to scrutiny by the Commerce Commission and any other legal entity as required by law (this process has commenced);
3. Elections to the FRU Board to be held as planned at the Annual General Meeting in April. The FRU to run the elections, with the Fiji Olympic Committee (FASANOC) to oversee the elections if invited by the FRU Board to do so;
4. The FRU CEOs resignation to be accepted or otherwise by the newly elected FRU Board;
5. The Government grant of FJ$ 3 million to be paid to the FRU in accordance with the Fiji Government’s accounting and monitoring procedures.

Fiji’s Rugby World Cup 2011 preparations continue with participation in the new-look IRB Pacific Rugby Cup which gets underway in Australia this weekend with A teams from all three Pacific Island Unions facing Super Rugby development team opposition. The Fiji Warriors commence their PRC campaign against the Queensland Reds Academy today at 6.30pm at Ballymore.