x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Fiji's rugby World Cup participation in doubt

The IRB tells the Fiji Rugby Union not to cede to pressure from the government which has offered funding for the tournament on the condition the board would resign.

AUCKLAND // Fiji's participation in the rugby World Cup is in doubt after the International Rugby Board (IRB) wrote to the union's board and told them not to cede to pressure from the military-led government according to local media.

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) and the government have been at loggerheads since the country's Commerce Commission conducted an investigation into a lottery held to raise funds for the World Cup.

The government said earlier this month it would give US$1.61 million (Dh5.91m) to help prepare the team for the September 9 to October 23 tournament in New Zealand, but only if the FRU board resigned.

The board and FRU chief executive Keni Dakuidreketi all resigned and a special board meeting was due to be held next week to elect new board members.

The Fiji Sun, however, said on their website the interim board had rejected Dakuidreketi's resignation and cancelled the meeting following the IRB's letter.

The IRB also warned the FRU they faced a ban if they did not adhere to their constitution.

"Any action in contravention of the constitution of the FRU will result in the Union potentially not remaining in good standing as a member of the Union of the IRB which may result in the IRB having to take a determination on the continued membership of the IRB of the FRU," the IRB's letter said.

IRB president Bernard Lapasset and chief executive Mike Miller are to travel to Fiji next month to discuss the issue.

Fiji have been drawn in Pool D with South Africa, Wales, Samoa and Namibia for the World Cup.