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Former Samoa international and director of the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare Dan Leo has said that Fiji must play in either the Rugby Championship or the Six Nations following their performance at the Rugby World Cup.
He said on Twitter: “Result aside, I think everyone agrees that Fiji have outgrown the Pacific Nations Cup.”
This came after they narrowly lost to Wales 29-17 in Oita; finishing their campaign with a pulsating game that was remarkably even. They also matched Australia in the first game of the tournament, and were leading at halftime, despite eventually losing.
A calamitous loss to Uruguay, where they made twelve changes from the fixture against the Wallabies four days prior, has perhaps tarnished their performance at the RWC on paper, but in reality, it is clear that they are well-matched against the likes of RWC contenders Wales and Australia, who both put out full strength sides.
This is what Leo said:
Result aside, I think everyone agrees that @fijirugby have outgrown the Pacific Nations Cup.
Must be included into Rugby Championship or even the 6 Nations
Fiji at RWC2023 after consistent Tier 1 comp = unstoppable!
— Daniel Leo (@danleo82) October 9, 2019
As World Rugby seeks to grow and develop rugby in tier two nations, Fiji simply have to be playing against the best regularly. The plan to introduce a Nations Championship would have indeed benefited Fiji, but was scrapped by World Rugby as it would have left many other tier two nations stranded.
But of the teams outside the Rugby Championship and the Six Nations, Japan and Fiji have made a compelling case to be included in one of these two competitions. Less than a year ago they beat France in Paris, which is only further evidence that they can match and beat the top nations.
Leo followed up by saying “over to you World Rugby,” as while it logistically may prove troublesome to accommodate these teams, this RWC has shown that something must be done for the expansion of the game.
Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova, Peceli Yato and Leone Nakarawa are just some of the players in the Fiji squad that are talked of among the best in the world, so much so that Leo says that Radradra should be nominated for World Rugby player of the year.
Would love to see Radradra nominated for @WorldRugby player of the year.
Any reason why he shouldn’t be apart from Fiji’s Tier 2 status?
— Daniel Leo (@danleo82) October 9, 2019
The biggest tragedy of this RWC was perhaps Fiji’s loss to Uruguay, as it would have made the contest against Wales all the more enthralling with both teams vying for a quarter-final place.
While one win from three is not flattering, Fiji have shown what they are capable of in 2019 and Leo is right to point out that with consistent competition against tier one opposition they could be “unstoppable” in 2023..
SOURCE: RUGBY PASS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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