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$100 a day

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, January 14, 2018

"Pay them right" - Serevi

$100 a day. That is what our Fiji Airways national sevens non-contracted players are being paid when on tour during the 2017-2018 World Rugby Sevens Series.

So for the first leg of the 2017-2018 World Rugby Sevens Series, after laying their body on the line for the country, these non-contracted players returned home with $1400.

The confirmation was made by players in the current squad, who wish to remain anonymous.

For those who have full-time employment, they are blessed as their salaries back them up to support their families. However, that is not the case for those who are full-time rugby players and rely on the sport to support their family.

Furthermore when in camp back home the same non-contracted players receive $50 a day.

"That is what we were getting when I was playing for Fiji," said former national sevens captain and coach Waisale Serevi who last played for Fiji 10 years ago.

There is no confirmation of how much the contracted players receive.

"The players are doing their duty they are laying their body on the line and it is about time the FRU also do their duty, look for sponsors and ensure these players are paid well," Serevi said.

"These players have families too. We want them when they run on the field to be mentally prepared and some things that distract them is knowing that their families are not taken care off.

"Fiji is not known for its sugar industry or its government, Fiji is known for rugby, and these players are our assets. We must look after them well and protect them."

Serevi said despite the financial constraints, he had Fiji at heart.

"When I was playing, sometimes I fund my own trip to come home to play for Fiji, because I love playing for Fiji, that's where the fans are, my family and my parents the people that I represent. I guess that is why my family is blessed.

"I always tell players that playing for Fiji is not about the money because there is no money, but it is about being given the opportunity to represent your country on the world stage and hope to secure an overseas contract."

Questions sent to the team manager last month remain unanswered. Questions were also sent to the chairman of the FRU, Francis Kean, and CEO John O'Connor and so far, there has been no response.

Meanwhile, the Jerry Tuwai-captained side is still in camp preparing for the second round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Sydney, Australia and Hamilton, New Zealand.

Seventeen Hong Kong titles — the most by any nation, two World Cups, two World Sevens Series titles and one Olympic gold ... is the sevens brand undervalued? Are our players getting what they truelly deserve? While we may not be able to match top rugby playing nations, let's just try and be reasonable and increase the pay packet for both contracted and non-contracted players.

Our small island nation had been on the map for various reasons but when Fiji first won its Hong Kong 7s title in 1977 under the leadership of former Parliamentarian Ratu Ilaitia Tuisese, world rugby looked up to the Fijians. Their flamboyance and unorthodox style of play, sent a stern warning to other top rugby playing nations. Nadi's Vuata Narisia and speedy winger Robert Howard were the try-scoring heroes for that side.

In 1984 under the watchful eyes of Ian Duncan and led by the agressive and tenacious captain the late Aliposo Waqailiti the side brought in another style of rugby filled with a lot of pace and flair. A team that had the services of Sela Gutugutuwai, Waqailiti and Dominiko Manaseitava upfront with the deadly combination of Paula Nawalu, Acura Niuqila, Senivalati Laulau and Etuate "Honda" Gusuivalu manning the backline. Also with them were Peni Rauluni and Keleto Loboilagi.

When the late Ratu Kitione Vesikula took over the reins he introduced another style and that which is being followed today by all rugby playing teams.

The one man down as the sweeper was well executed by the team that hoisted the prestigious Hong Kong title for three consecutive years from 1990-1992.

Among other national sevens team, all these players lay their body on the line for the country. Gone are those days when players play only for passion.

These players need incentives, they too have families to feed. Give them what they truly deserve.

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