No plans for Fiji 7s to be franchised despite global calls from the likes of Ben Ryan

No plans for Fiji 7s to be franchised despite global calls from the likes of Ben Ryan

IT is currently not possible for the Fiji 7s team to become a franchise.

This was told to Parliament by Sports Minister Laisenia Tuitubou yesterday after a question from Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa on the State's plan to franchise the 7s team to make it the most marketable team in the world.

Responding to Ro Teimumu, Mr Tuitubou said through the Government, the ministry could support the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU), but the ultimate decision of a franchise was for FRU to make.

"I believe this decision will be taken in consultation with us and with World Rugby, but until then, the 7s rugby team will not become a franchise, as it is currently not possible," he said.

Mr Tuitubou said the concept of a franchise was linked to something like MacDonald's or Starbucks.

"And I am sure that everyone in this House would agree that, by contrast, our national rugby 7s team is a jewel in our crown.

"There are currently no national 7s teams that operate as a franchise in the World Sevens Series."

He said the franchise idea brought about by former 7s coach, Ben Ryan was better described as "ring-fencing" or "protecting the team" such as a Super Rugby team as a commercial property or brand in a company structure.

"This is a very different issue and one which would be an innovative step.

"There are issues which other rugby nations have had to consider such as the revenue generated by the specific team which is then used to help fund development of the club, province and/or sport as a whole."

Tuitubou said Fiji had a small economy and a great 7s team.

"We need international sponsors to support our rugby because we do well on the international stage.

"This would re-affirm that we punch way above our weight against better resourced and professional teams."

He said the first step for the FRU was to put in place its governance reforms and to ensure its financial sustainability as there were significant financial returns to be had with the right approach to sponsors.

"We need to ensure that the brand is clean, successful and recognised across the world.

"Our men's 7s team can tick those boxes and we hope that soon, the men's and women's 15s and 7s teams are able to do this."