Officials hope for successful Fiji sevens bid

THE Fiji Rugby Union is highly optimistic of winning the bid to host a HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the country.

The FRU is hoping to stage the event over three days in October 2019.

Nadi’s Prince Charles Park has been identified as the venue. The current facility will get a major facelift with the Fiji Government allocating a grant of $10 million if the bid is approved.

The bidding for the 2018-2019 series will take place on June 28.

Fiji’s bid was unveiled during the FRU annual awards and gala dinner at the Sheraton Resort in Nadi on Friday

Fiji Rugby Union commercial management manager Brian Thorburn said they had submitted a bid last month to host both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Thorburn said it was a bold and ambitious program.

“Prince Charles Park has been selected as the venue and the timing is mid-October,” he said.

“We are building a new stadium out of light weight temporary structures at Prince Charles Park. We will lift the playing field by a metre to overcome drainage issues.”

Thorburn said they were confident of getting the infrastructure in place ahead of time.

“Some of the preliminary work will start shortly,” he said.

“We intend to do things like geotech survey of the soil in the coming few weeks. We will initiate asbestos survey of the existing grand stand in readiness for demolition.

“We will appoint project managers and work with scaffolding and seating suppliers so that we are ready to sign orders by June 29.

“We should be ready a day after the decision that we can get on doing the stuff.

“June 28 is the day World Rugby will make the announcements for the bids. Between now and then we will do a lot of preparation work like engaging with suppliers and tender process in some cases.

“We will potentially even sign contracts so that we can be ready as possible as we can on the day after the decision is announced.

“When we have the decision we will have a period of about 14 months and that’s achievable.

“Fiji certainly does not have a capacity to produce scaffolding seating of 20,000.

“We will work on all the civil engineering things we need to beforehand.

“Government has announced a rough estimate of what will be needed to construct.

“Some of the costs we had to make assumptions about because we haven’t been out to get to tenders yet.

“At this stage government has announced $10 million for capital works required to prepare the stadium.”

Denarau Island will be the main base for the teams, match officials and the tournament coordinators and World Rugby officials.

Thorburn said they had set out a plan to have the necessary facilities in short distances of the venue and Denarau Island.

“We are confident that the combination of the hotels on Denarau, the short route of the airport, the playing venues, training venues and all the other things that we need like gymnasium, swimming pools approximately tick all the boxes that World Rugby requires,” he said.

“We just need to demonstrate that we can deliver on what we are aiming for.

“Under the heading of volunteers, we will be working with the Nawaka 7s, Coral Coast 7s and Marist 7s organisers.

“So we will give an opportunity to volunteers from those tournaments to be volunteers in this tournament.”

Nadi being the tourism hub of the country is expected to host a number of overseas visitors which is likely affect traffic flow through the main town.

Thorburn said a traffic management plan would be done to avoid congestion.

“From a team’s perspective they will come in from Denarau and use the back road to Prince Charles Park,” he said.

“So they will avoid the main Nadi Town traffic. From a public perspective we will work on transport options.

“We intend to develop an integrated ticketing model so the price of the ticket will include free public transport.

“We want to encourage people to come by bus. We want to discourage people to drive.

“We will also make arrangements for parking.

“There will be parking stations and then fans can walk to the ground. We have started talking to the Nadi Town Council for that.”

The 2000 Fiji Sevens was part of the then inaugural 1999-2000 International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens World Series.

It was held at the ANZ Stadium formally known as the National Stadium in Suva.

New Zealand broke the hearts of the local fans defeating Fiji 31-5 in the cup final.

Fiji has not hosted a series event since then.

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