x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Fiji takes risky tack on boycott call

Fiji's decision to tell players to boycott the rugby World Cup in New Zealand because of its ban on Fijian team members who are members of the military is a risky call.

Fiji's rugby team have been urged by national sports officials to boycott the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

In response to the New Zealand government placing travel sanctions on Fijian players with military links, the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee has called for the team to pull out of the event that starts on September 9.

However, Bill Gavoka, the former Fiji Rugby Union chairman, said such a move could backfire.

"The idea of boycotting the World Cup is quite silly," Gavoka told the Fiji Times. "Preparing the World Cup event takes four years and costs hundreds of millions of dollars. How do you think the International Rugby Board will view a boycott? Would they want to have a relationship with a country that reneges on its undertaking?"

He pointed out that the travel sanctions by New Zealand are not new. "It's not as if the boycott by New Zealand came up only yesterday," he said. "It's been there for years."

Fiji reached the quarter-finals at the 2007 World Cup in France.

It was the first time they had advanced so far in the tournament since losing to Les Bleus in the last eight at the inaugural World Cup in New Zealand in 1987.