Fiji Rugby’s Special General Meeting turned-out to be fruitful one with an exciting 2021 season ahead.
Chief Executive John O’Connor thanked the President Voreqe Bainimarama, Chairman Conway Beg, Board members and the member unions for their presence during the SGM at the Novotel House in Lami.
O’Connor said “We had a good review of the 2020 rugby season where we faced a lot of financial difficulties with COVID-19 hitting the globe drastically.
We were happy today that all the member unions were present for the meeting.”
He added “The main items discussed in the meeting was the calendar for 2021 rugby season and likewise the format of the domestic competition.”
“We also shared the bit of learnings from snapshot review of 2020, the learnings, challenges and what we can do better to continue to lift the performance of the domestic competition” he added.
O’Connor said “In principlel the council has agreed that for Kaji Rugby, we will have tag competition in the first terms and that’s from Under 7 to 14 grades provided the appropriate approval is given by Ministry of Education.
In terms two, we will continue the Tag Rugby from Under 7 to 11 categories and then we will commence with contact rugby from Under 12 to 14 but again we need to have consultations and discussions with Fiji Kaji Rugby Union and Ministry of Education.”
Vodafone Deans Competition
“In principle, the council has endorsed the same format of the Deans in 2019 to be played this year but we need to get the appropriate approval from Ministry of Education” said O’Connor.
Fiji Rugby Skipper Cup
He added “On Domestic competition, we will maintain the current format of the Fiji Rugby Provincial Competition.
We had advised the council today that the sponsorship of Skipper Cup has expired last year so we are currently continuing our discussion with CJ Patel and we hope to finalize all the negotiations in the next few weeks.
We will continue with 8 teams that means Northland and Rewa will play in the main competition while Lautoka and Yasawa will be demoted to the Vodafone Vanua Championship.
There were suggestions to increase the team but the Board endorsed that we will continue with the 8 teams.
Competition will kick off on the 10th of April and Rewa will be the first challenge for the Farebrother Trophy holders Nadi followed by Naitasiri if Nadi retains the trophy.”
Vodafone Vanua Championship
The CEO Fiji Rugby said they will have similar format as last year for Vodafone Vanua Championship.
“With Lautoka and Yasawa joining them, one of the teams from Rakiraki, Nanukuloa will join the Northern Zone with Bua, Cakuadrove and Macuata because one of the issues raised was Ovalau had to incur a lot of cost traveling to Suva and then to Vanua Levu. So Nanukuloa will get the direct passage and will be much cheaper.
Ovalau will therefore join the Central Zone together with Northern Bulls, Nasinu and Serua” said O’Connor.
He added “We still have four zones and we will have quarterfinals followed by semis and final. For Skipper Cup we will only have semi-finals and finals.”
The Vodafone Vanua Championship will kick off on the 13th of May.
Separate Women’s Competition
O’Connor highlighted that discussion also happened today about a separate Women’s Competition.
“There were a lot of complaints raised by women’s especially teams like Lautoka which played in the final of the Skipper Cup but had to be demoted due to their senior team failing to make it into the top eight.
This also included Macuata, which won the Vodafone Vanua Championship women’s title but cannot come up due to their senior team not qualifying” he said.
O’Connor added “We have had discussions with the sponsors.
The endorsement today is that we need to have a separate sponsor then we will run a separate women’s competition.
For the main team in this new version of competition they will have a Under-19 girls competition while on the other side of the Skipper Cup if the women category moves out of the competition then we will introduce a men’s development category.
One of the issues discussed, is when players are over 19 and are not selected to represent their provincial teams there is no game time for them, so this is where we will introduce a development category that is only if we are going to have a separate women’s competition.
There was also discussion on the international calendar but at the moment due to this COVID-19 pandemic there is nothing confirmed.
One of the things we are so grateful about is we are allowed to play domestic and club rugby because in most of the countries in the World they are only allowed to play professional rugby and there is no grass root sports taking place.
“We want to thank the President and Fijian Government for their leadership in that regards” said O’Connor.