The Fiji Rugby Union is positive and excited at the proposed format of the World Rugby Nations Championship, which is set to include the Flying Fijians in a new global competition alongside the best teams in the world.

FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean and CEO John O’Connor attended last week’s World Rugby meeting in Dublin, in which Fiji and Japan joined tier one unions and international player representatives to discuss where World Rugby’s future plans for the international game.

The sport’s global governing body tweaked their initial proposal, with the proposed Nations Championship set to begin in 2022 and feature two conferences based on the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, with the two top teams meeting in the final.

Two teams would join New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina in the Southern Hemisphere conference on merit, with Fiji and Japan currently in line for inclusion based on their world rankings.

Mr Kean thanked the Chairman of NZ Rugby and SANZAAR, Brent Impey and the other SANZAAR unions for their strong backing for Fiji’s inclusion in the Championship.

“We are very thankful for the strong support from the SANZAAR Unions.”

Francis Kean said the FRU supports the three tier format proposed by World Rugby, which would ensure competition for the likes of their Pacific neighbours Tonga and Samoa and offer meaningful opportunities for promotion and relegation.

FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean and Flying Fijians coach John McKee.

FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean and Flying Fijians coach John McKee. Photo: Supplied / Fiji Rugby Union

Mr Kean said the new competition was a breath of fresh air and would open up rugby to become a truly global sport.

“The pathways offered to rugby playing nations is highly commendable and I salute Sir Bill (Beaumont) and his team at World Rugby for introducing this long overdue product.”

Francis Kean said tier one nations are at a crossroads where they must decide whether rugby is to remain a closed sport or be opened up for opportunities to emerging nations, such as Fiji.

He said it was important the Flying Fijians continue to perform on the field to guarantee their world ranking remains inside the top 12, in order to confirm their place in the new competition.

(Source:Radio New Zealand)

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