Fiji to get a Super Rugby franchise?

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Ryan guided the islanders to the gold medal at the Rio Olympics in August but has now revealed ambitions of establishing a Super Rugby team in Fiji to stop the exodus of top talent overseas.

The Daily Telegraph in the UK reported Ryan as saying that there are over 160 Fijian players in France alone, and many Pacific Islander born players represent France, England, Australia and New Zealand.

Apparently, 20 million pounds has already been secured to fund the new venture, with a new 20 000-seater stadium near the Nadi airport in Fiji also set to be built. “I believe the impact of this plan would see Fiji win the World Cup one day,” said Ryan.

“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.

“It is not pie in the sky. Pick a World XV from the players that are playing outside Fiji and Samoa in the other international teams and you would get a team that is there or thereabouts. We have got some of the biggest companies in the world backing this. They have ties with the Pacific Islands.

“I have had conversations and we have got money on the table to be able to pay for all of this. We will have more money behind the team than any other Super Rugby franchise. We could make them the best club side in the world. Imagine the talent that we have got in France? They would all be on the first flight back.”

Sanzaar have yet to comment on the plans, but Ryan has outlined his plans to World Rugby. However, the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) say they have no knowledge of Ryan's plans and have their own plans for Super Rugby.

FRU chief executive John O'Connor told fijivillage.com that Ryan is not doing any work for the FRU, who have revealed their own plans to participate in Super Rugby with World Rugby, Sanzaar and other interested parties.

Fiji will have a team in next year's Australian provincial championship, and their national head coach John McKee told the Daily Telegraph that Fiji could benefit from Super Rugby in the same way Argentina have from the Jaguares' inclusion.

“With the talented athletes we have, if we had a Super Rugby team, we would be right up there,” McKee said.

“From a national coaching perspective, to have our players playing in Super Rugby would be hugely beneficial for the national team because the windows fit in with the Test-match windows.

“We would have access to a fair number of our squad at home over the whole 12 months. We would still select players from Europe but the core of our team (would be at home).

“You look at Argentina and how they have improved. They found it a bit tough in Super Rugby with all the travel and that sort of thing, but what it has done is to enable them to have the core of their players at home for the majority of the year.

“You can see how the Argentinean game style has changed, they are a much more dangerous team now, they had a very successful World Cup almost playing a very un-Argentinian style rugby. That has come from playing Super Rugby.”

African News Agency

Original source: Fiji to get a Super Rugby franchise?

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