THE five Ratu Kadavulevu School (RKS) under-18 players have joined the national 7s team to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
The Ministry of Education had to intervene and gave approval yesterday for these players to join the Fiji U18 7s team to participate in the Youth Olympics starting next weekend.
The school was not willing to release forwards Joseva Rauga, Ratu Epeneri Uluiviti, Timoci Meya, rover Ratu Filimoni Nawabalavu and playmaker Filipe Qoro as they were the key players for their U18 team which is scheduled to play Lelean Memorial School in the Coke Zero Deans under-18 final this coming Saturday.
Ministry of Education acting permanent secretary Basundra Kumar said national duty was paramount adding the ministry was focused on the holistic development of the students.
She said the Youth Olympics contributed to the physical development of these students, providing exposure as well as opportunities for overseas contracts.
Kumar said in future if the principals would stop the students from representing the country then they would have to intervene for the "good of the nation".
She said the students should not be deprived from representing the country at the international meets.
"This is a lifetime opportunity for these five students to showcase their talents as scouts from overseas rugby clubs will be watching to recruit and contract rugby players," Mrs Kumar said in a statement from the ministry.
"We confirm that we have received a request from the Fiji Rugby Union for the release of these players as this is a national duty.
"We have given our approval considering that this Youth Olympic Games is an international event and will benefit the students in the long run."
Fiji U18 7s team manager Ropate Kauvesi said they were elated to have the players in the camp.
He said the 12-member team went through a training session yesterday and the players were settling in well.
Kauvesi said the five RKS players were the core of the team and their services would be vital in their campaign at the Youth Olympics.
"For us, it's just about getting the balance right. We have four days in China to train together but the good thing is that these players come from the same school and have been playing together so they know each other well," Kauvesi said.
"The morale in the camp is high and the boys are looking forward to the games."
The national team comprises of students from Sigatoka Methodist High School, Rampur College, Saint John's College and RKS.
Team Fiji will leave for China tomorrow.
The Youth Olympics will be held from August 16 to 28.