As announced previously, Fiji Rugby has been given the opportunity to field a Fijian team in the 2022 Super rugby competition, subject to meeting a range of conditions set down by NZ Rugby.
Fiji Rugby is delighted to announce that it has now completed one of the key steps in finalising its Business Plan which will underpin the Fijian Drua’s proposed entry in 2022.
FRU CEO, John O’Connor said “The prospect of the Fijian Drua playing in Super Rugby will be a dream come true, if we can meet the financial hurdles needed to sustain such a team. Having the resources to offer competitive playing contracts to not only bring our best players home, but to keep our best local talent in Fiji is our key objective. We want to field a team that is capable of reaching the Finals in its’ first year and winning the competition within 5 years.”
The Business Plan envisages playing at least six home games in Fiji each year, against blockbuster teams such as the Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues, Reds & Brumbies.
O’Connor added “The Super rugby games held in Fiji in recent years show the passion of our fans and support for Super Rugby, and with a Fijian team representing our country, we are very confident that the local Fijians will turn out to passionately support the Drua.”
The confidential Business Plan provided to New Zealand Rugby Union not only outlines the financial targets and the initial playing squad & coaching structure, but also details the complete administrative structures to support the team.
O’Connor noted that like the arrangements for the Drua’s entry into the Australian NRC in recent years, the operations of the Drua will be conducted through a separate company structure, with its’ own Board of Directors, and administration, separate to the FRU.
“We are adopting a structure very similar to those which operate at existing provincial unions in Australia & New Zealand”, O’Connor said. “The team will have their own Head Coach, and coaching structure, and there will be a Chief Executive Officer and back office support team. We expect to have a 37 man playing squad in Year 1, with coaching & administration staff of up to a further 28 people”.
The new entrant will need to meet stringent financial conditions set down by New Zealand Rugby Union which include the requirement to hold substantial cash assets and provide financial guarantees to ensure the team’s long term viability.
O’Connor said “We have been aware for some time that we would need to raise capital to meet the financial hurdles. We want the team to be properly capitalised so that it can be in place for twenty years and more, not just a few. NZ Rugby rightfully insists on there being enough financial resources to sustain team operations even if we have a bad year or two”.
As a result of the financial requirements, Fiji Rugby has decided to seek private capital and is offering a majority ownership of the entity which will own & operate the team. Together with its’ Business Plan, FRU has also prepared a detailed Information Memorandum to outline the opportunity and attract Investors.
O’Connor said “Private capital is a fact of life for sporting teams and franchises around the world, and we are embracing it, at the same time making sure that Fiji Rugby has an appropriate say in policy and key decisions around the team. We intend to seek NZ$10 million in capital and we’re confident that our proposal will attract strong interest from Investors in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. Ideally, we’d like Fijian investors also, but we’re looking for either a single investor, or at most 3 or 4 entities to back our team”.
FRU Chairman, Conway Beg said “This is a transformational opportunity for Fiji Rugby. Once we attract the capital, we can finally bring our best players home, keep our best local players and have them together in one place, training and playing together week in & week out, developing combinations, and having consistent skill development, strength & conditioning support and all of the usual facilities that other Super Rugby teams enjoy in the region. We’re looking forward to bringing the Fijian style of rugby to Super Rugby in 2022 – Fun. Flair. Energy. Unpredictability. I can’t wait!”
The FRU’s General Manager, Commercial Brian Thorburn will lead the capital raising, and will work with an appointed financial advisor to finalise the transaction by the end of March. Beg added “We have to get the capital in place. Otherwise we won’t be able to make the dream a reality. Once that’s done, we’ll share lots more information on our plans”.