Welfare, the priority for Flying Fijians

Fiji Rugby Union CEO, John O'Connor speaks to the media during a press conference at the Fiji Rugby Union boardroom in Suva on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The Fiji Rugby Union is excited about the Flying Fijians facing the New Zealand All Blacks twice this July but the parent body’s main focus right now is on complying with the government restrictions and supporting the policies in place for the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the virus under control.

World Rugby has released the full schedule for the July international window with the Flying Fijians playing the All Blacks on back to back weekends for the first time in New Zealand.

FRU chief executive officer John O’Connor said the priority was the welfare of all Fijians.

O’Connor said after the clearance was given by the government then they wuold focus on planning for the international fixtures.

“While we are excited about the two internationals, there is a lot of uncertainty about the current COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“So at the moment the priority is on the safety and the welfare of the players whether they are away overseas or are in Fiji.

“While we have contacted the overseas boys, our priority is the situation here in Fiji supporting government that the virus is controlled.”

The Flying Fijians Autumn Nations Cup campaign was disrupted last year after a COVID-19 outbreak in camp forcing the team to concede all their group stage matches.

O’Connor said they were continuing discussions with New Zealand Rugby on the two matches. “We were scheduled to play the All Blacks once this year but now there are two matches,” he said.

“However there are a lot of uncertainties and each day brings a new challenge.”

The Flying Fijians is scheduled to face the All Blacks on July 10 and July 17 with the venues for both matches to be confirmed later.

The July international window will feature 25 of the top 30 ranked unions.

World champion South Africa and hosts Japan play first tests since the Rugby World Cup 2019 The United Kingdom and Ireland are set to host a number of nations, while New Zealand will become the Pacific hub.

The Samoa versus Tonga play-off will be the first qualifier for the RWC 2023 in Oceania One. RWC 2023 qualifiers also to be played in Europe, Africa and South America. |

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