Fiji upset at World Rugby awards snub

Date published: November 15 2016

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) said it is disappointed its Olympic gold medal-winning Sevens side was overlooked for major prizes at the World Rugby Awards.

Fiji missed out on Team of the Year award, which was won by the All Blacks, who set a new world-record for the most consecutive Test wins by a tier one nation.

The Olympic Sevens champions were also overlooked for the Coach of the Year award – which the All Blacks’ Steve Hansen won ahead of Fiji’s former coach Ben Ryan – and the Sevens Player of the Year award, which went to South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla.

The FRU issued  a press statement on Tuesday in which they questioned why none of its “deserving nominees” received a prize at the sport’s annual awards ceremony in London.

Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to win an Olympic medal when its men’s side won the Sevens tournament at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Sevens rugby is the national sport in Fiji which forms part of their national culture, and their Olympic triumph galvanised the country.

Fiji government’s gave Ryan and his players cash payments and awards of land when they returned to the country after the Olympics.

They also won back-to-back World Sevens series titles before their success in Rio and the FRU feels the impact of their Sevens team “had a far greater effect on the game of rugby globally” than the All Blacks.

“We believe our sevens team, with the meager resources available to them, have outperformed any other team in 2016,” the FRU said.

“The rugby world expects the All Blacks to do well because they have all the resources available to them. The impact (Fiji Sevens captain) Osea Kolinisau has had on the game of sevens in the last two seasons far outclasses any performance by Seabelo Sanatla.”

Fiji said they are “in the process of expressing our concerns and disappointment to World Rugby.”