Fiji need time to meet IRB protocols

Date published: January 15 2014

The Fiji Rugby Union's acting chief executive, Berlin Kafoa, has stated that more time is needed to implement IRB recommendations.

The Fiji Rugby Union's acting chief executive, Berlin Kafoa, has stated that more time is needed to implement the IRB's recommendations.

The IRB announced on Saturday that Fiji's funding would be suspended until several measures regarding governance, administration and financial reporting were introduced.

Kafoa said that a six-month deadline had been set by the FRU to have all the new measures in place, after being notified of the suspension in December last year.

“We are concerned that the IRB have not given us enough time to implement recommendations…that were given to us to implement,” Kafoa told ABC.

“The letter…suspending funds only came up in December 2013, so in all fairness, we have set a deadline for May 2014 to implement the reforms that we, the board, see fit and is in line with the review done by IRB.

“We are doing the reforms not out of satisfaction to the IRB, but out of satisfaction to what we think they should be for organisations with accepted standards of practice in finance and governance and human resources, etc.,” he said.

“We were doing that so that by the time we were re-engaging with the IRB, we would have all that in place.

“I think one of the things that we are concerned about is the IRB dictating to us what we should do in our own country for our own rugby.”

One area of major concern was revealed last week, when it emerged that Fiji Sevens head coach Ben Ryan was yet to be paid since taking over this season.

Kafoa confirmed that Ryan had agreed to work voluntarily for the first few months whilst the FRU were “sorting things out.” Extra funding has now been made available for Ryan to be paid.

“Ben has made some sacrifices given the FRU's financial woes, and he volunteered for the first couple of months while we were sorting things out with the financial situation,” added Kafoa.

“That definitely said a lot about Ben as a person, because the package that we offered is nowhere near what he would have earned in England, so I can correctly say he was very keen, and we are very appreciative.

The IRB's Oceania general manager, Will Glenwright, added that the issues stretched back to May 2013 when the Islanders required emergency funding to compete in the Pacific Nations Cup.

“In terms of the governance, it the broad failure of the Board to apply what we would consider to be fundamental governance principles relating to the decision-making process of the Board, the structure and composition of the Board and the legal structure of the organisation as well,” said Glenwright.

“The heart of this problem is the financial sustainability of the union – the union has a large debt and a growing debt…and there is no foreseeable way that the union has any plans or means by which to address this debt.

“What we've got to remember now is that the FRU is a multi-million dollar organisation and it competes at the highest level of the game.”