A Fijian-based team will enter Australia’s National Rugby Championship (NRC) competition in 2017 in what’s being described as a major step forward in the game.
The Australian Rugby Union made an official announcement at their Sydney headquarters on Friday afternoon, with the team to comprise of locally-based players from Fiji’s national second XV. The side will also play its home matches in Fiji.
Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver says it’s a landmark moment for world rugby.
“We are incredibly excited to welcome Fiji into the Buildcorp NRC and thank World Rugby for supporting both the ARU and FRU in helping to make this a reality for next season,” Pulver said.
“The Fiji brand of Rugby is arguably the most exciting brand of Rugby in the world and their inclusion in the Buildcorp NRC will enhance the competition both in terms of the quality of Rugby and by adding a huge amount of support and interest from the Fijian communities both in Fiji and here in Australia.”
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont echoed Pulver’s comments, saying it may not be the only Pacific Island nation to join the competition.
“The Pacific Islands play a major role in the sport’s heritage and future and World Rugby is committed to working with our friends and colleagues in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to further assist them with the unique challenges that they face,” Pulver said.
“Participation in the NRC will not only provide a superb performance pathway leading in to Rugby World Cup 2019, but it provides locally-based players with a strong alternative to playing club rugby overseas should they wish to remain in the Fijian system.”
World Rugby will fund the Fijian NRC team for the next four years with officials from the nation hopeful of having a Super Rugby team within five years.
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