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Rugby hope

Maciu Malo
Thursday, January 30, 2014

FORMER United Arab Emirates rugby performance manager Epeli Lagiloa is calling on the Fiji Rugby Union to establish a player exchange scheme with the emirates.

A 10-page report submitted by the fitness guru and former national coach to the FRU — sighted by this newspaper — also mentions the financial gains that could benefit the cash-strapped Rugby House from the emirates if such a scheme was introduced.

Lagiloa said the FRU should make regular contact, either personal or through the mass media, with the United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation and update each other on administrative and technical progresses.

"FRU and United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation to establish a player exchange scheme whereby we send a team to UAE for development purposes on a short time basis and costs to be discussed by the two countries, or vice versa," he said.

"The Fiji Rugby Union to officially welcome an United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation delegation through their secretary general and the new board member, who is a member of the royal family, and accord them a full Fijian ceremony and present our annual budget to them and ask for their assistance.

"A full yearly budget which will cater for all rugby competitions in the country, starting from Milo Kaji to the national teams — Milo Kaji, secondary schools, island zone, B Division, Digicel provincial, sevens, women's, U18, U20 and development squad.

"Or a Fiji delegation to travel to Dubai through arrangements with our Fiji embassy to seek consultation with United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation officials to look for major sponsors like the Emirates Airlines and the royal family themselves."

The former FNU sports science lecturer said he had built good network with the royal family which the FRU could benefit from.

He said he was honoured to meet Dubai Prime Minister Sheik Mouktoun during his stint with United Arab Emirates rugby who made his intention clear on the significance of rugby development.

"I realised that my mission has been accomplished and that God wants me to come back and help Fiji rugby," Lagiloa said.

"Then the words of Sheik Mouktoun (ruler and Prime Minister of Dubai) when he visited me at the Trade Center while training the boys came back to me. He told me, 'Give me something and I will send you back smiling to Fiji'.

"Rugby is given to them by the FRU and I am coming back smiling knowing they have what we don't.

"Fiji being the elder brother in rugby (100 years old) has to reach out and hold the hands of its young brother and guide him to the international arena.

"Whereas United Arab Emirates is an elder brother in finance and has to reach out and assist his younger brother, so they will both walk the freeway of rugby and its people in years to come."

The former Lautoka rugby 15s coach added: "I am a firm believer in terms of success, two or three heads together is better than one and according to the secretary general's words, the United Arab Emirates and FRU are committed to each other and there's an element of hope in that."





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