IRB's suspension of funding to the Fiji Rugby Union affects sevens team in their preparations for this weekend's Las Vegas Sevens
Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan admits the financial crisis surrounding the sport has impacted his team's preparations for this weekend's Las Vegas leg of the World Series.
Earlier this month the International Rugby Board suspended direct funding of more than 1.5 million US dollars to the Fiji Rugby Union, citing the FRU's failure to agree to the implementation of key recommendations from a major review.
Ben Ryan told Vinnie Wylie his focus is on preparing his squad for this weekend's tournament but admits the financial shortfall has at times affected their build-up.
BEN RYAN: It's certainly had a very big impact as far as things that haven't happened or haven't been available to us but it hasn't distracted us — in fact it's probably made us stronger. We've gotten to the point where we haven't had bottled water at training sessions, our bus has run out of petrol, boys haven't had any playing kit, we've been using old rugby balls and had no training gear but they're so good at just getting on with it and working hard and they've got so much desire to play. You know how fanatical the country is for sevens — they are doing it for free but they would do it for free anyway.
VINNIE WYLIE: Have you had an indication as to when that might be sorted? I know there is obviously discussions with the IRB and what not — are you able to focus on your job and sort of just let the people at head office do that?
BR: I'm a coach and that's what I want to do. It has unfortunately impacted on things that we want to do as a playing group and from a resource point of view — the basics that we talked about — haven't been available but I will let the FRU organise and sort all that out. The new sponsors, whoever comes on board, have got a very special product in Fijian Rugby that they can help push towards an Olympic gold medal in the sevens so it is an exciting time ahead once the finances come back in. And it's got to be remembered, really, that none of this financial situation was as a result of the current board and the current people working here. It's historical debts and various other things, it just got to that tipping point and Filimoni, our chairman, he's also the Fijian Finance Minister, is an incredibly impressive person and he's worked very hard to get things right so the long answer to the short question was I'm letting other people that know what they're doing sort all that out.
VW: And of course, as you've touched on previously, the issue with your salary you knew that coming in, that was an agreement that you had with them so I guess from that point of view it's nothing new and things will sort out in time.
BR: Yeah when I got offered the contract there was obviously negotiations around salary that was agreed and then subsequently found out that the finances weren't there so I took that decision to continue and do it for free. That's the current situation. I knew that and if I'm honest with you I wish none of that had gone out in the press and the focus can start to go onto the boys and what we're doing on the field because they played some pretty good rugby in the last couple of tournaments and we just want to keep on improving in what we can do there.