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Rugby saga

Shalveen Chand
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

THE offer made by mobile service providers Digicel did not equal the Vodafone offer made to the Fiji Rugby Union, the High Court in Suva was told yesterday.

The hearing for the injunction application by Digicel started yesterday before Justice Kamal Kumar.

Digicel in their submissions told the court that there had been a breach of their sponsorship contract when Fiji Rugby Union signed a new contract with the Vodafone consortium instead of Digicel.

The court was told Digicel had suffered damage in terms of promoting their products and branding.

Dr John Turner acting for Digicel said a similar case involving Nike and Puma had happened in Europe when a football player who had signed on with Nike went on to sign with Puma without giving Nike the right to match, which was stipulated in their contract.

He said a Dutch court ruled in favour of Nike.

He added that Vodafone and FRU knew of the court action and injunction application filed on January 31 but despite that the two went on to sign the deal on February 2.

FRU lawyer Nilesh Lajendra presented to the court the sponsorship figures which FRU had been offered. The court was told that FRU had been offered $3.6million in cash and $4.4million in kind annually by the Vodafone consortium which made total sponsorship of $8million.

Mr Lajendra told the court that on January 20 Digicel said it would match the sponsor. He said on January 24, Digicel was informed by FRU's marketing and sponsorship director-in-charge Baljit Singh that the Deans Rugby and Fiji International Sevens already had sponsors.

The court was told that Mr Singh had informed Digicel that they could keep the sponsorship for the two tournaments but only for the Tier Two competition.

The court was also told that Mr Singh told Digicel that their sponsorship of the Tier Two level would have to be of the same monetary value as the sponsorship for the Tier One competition â€" $600,000 in cash and kind.

Mr Lajendra said on January 29, Digicel CEO Maurice McCarthy told FRU they would not take up the Tier Two sponsorship but wanted the FRU to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the sponsorship.

Mr Lajendra said by taking this decision, the total value of the Digicel offer was $7.4million instead of the $8million offered by Vodafone.

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