Updated: 01/12/2014 14:31 | By Agence France-Presse

Fiji pledges to regain IRB funding

Fiji's cash-strapped rugby union pledged Sunday to be back on side with the International Rugby Board in four months after its World Cup plans were hit when all financial aid was cut.


Fiji pledges to regain IRB funding

Fiji's rugby union pledges to be back on side with the IRB in four months after its World Cup plans were hit when all financial aid was cut

The IRB announced Saturday it had axed all direct financial support because Fiji rugby bosses had failed to implement recommended measures to address "significant concerns regarding the administration and governance of the union". 

But the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) responded by saying it was dealing with the issues and would still go to the IRB for money if it needed to.

"Please note that all these issues were inherited by this current FRU board and the board expects to clear up all these issues by end of May 2014," the FRU said in a statement. 

The FRU said it had so far used 200,000 British pounds ($329,000) of a 250,000 pound grant towards its 2015 World Cup campaign. 

"The FRU Board will only ask for the further funding from IRB only if absolutely necessary or not at all, and reserve this funding for our World Cup preparations.

"To alleviate the financial crisis the FRU board is currently working on fundraising activities, approaching several sponsors and the Fiji government through the Fiji Sports Commission to assist the FRU." 

Although 50,000 pounds remained in the World Cup kitty, Fiji coach Inoke Male told AFP "more funds from the IRB would have to be good for Fiji". 

The IRB said it had committed "1.1 million pounds in direct funding to the FRU in 2013 and significant additional financial assistance to participate in international tournaments in 2013". 

It added that it had formally expressed concerns that the "financial position of the union is unsustainable and could create instability and impact on the management of the union and key IRB-funded development and high performance programmes".

The FRU this week admitted it was struggling to pay the salary of high-profile Sevens coach Ben Ryan, forcing him to work voluntarily for three months.

The Englishman's appointment was announced with much fanfare in September, when he was charged with improving the skillful but inconsistent islanders ahead of Sevens' Olympic debut in 2016.

However, Ryan said "not a penny" of his salary had been paid and he was living off his savings, including covering the cost of flights home to see his family over the festive season.

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