England players earn £22 000, Fiji’s get £400

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The vast gulf between rugby's richest and poorest is being brought into sharp focus on the sport's biggest stage.

Fiji-born Semesa Rokoduguni starts on the wing and Nathan Hughes is among the replacements - for England - having switched national allegiance. Their reward is a healthy match fee, negotiated between the England players' union and England's rugby governing body.

Their compatriots who represent Fiji on the field get the far smaller match fee - less than 2 percent of what England players get - and around 60 pounds-a-day during their November European tour. Even that is a struggle for their impoverished Union.

England's Rugby Football Union (RFU), the biggest and richest governing body in the sport, rakes in around 10 million pounds every time it hosts a match at the 82 000-capacity Twickenham Stadium in south-west London.

Rules of the global World Rugby governing body allow the home nation to keep all the profits from a match. The RFU says it has made a “goodwill payment” of £75 000 after Fiji officials requested double that.

When asked about the situation at the World Rugby Conference in London earlier this week, RFU CEO Ian Ritchie said: “It is not England's responsibility to help fund world rugby.

“This was a conservation I had with Fiji back in May-June. We have absolutely no obligation to do anything, but we had discussions on an appropriate contribution and we agreed to it.

“I had a note from them saying, 'We are delighted. Thank you very much for the kind contribution.'“

Ritchie said funding Fiji rugby was a matter for Fiji and Word Rugby.

Hundreds of players from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa - where there is no professional rugby - ply their trade for clubs in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and dozens of them eventually switch nationality, which they are allowed to do under a three-year residency rule.

Fiji won the Olympic Rugby Sevens gold medal at the Rio Olympics this year - their country's first-ever Olympic medal - but the player drain severely limits their attempt to punch their weight in the 15-a-side game.

Reuters

Original source: England players earn £22 000, Fiji's get £400

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