IRB to hold crisis meetings in Fiji - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

IRB to hold crisis meetings in Fiji

01/02/2011 12:52:32 PM Comments (0)

International Rugby Board officials will hold talks in Fiji on Tuesday with the aim of resolving a crisis threatening the country's future in world rugby.

IRB chief executive Mike Miller and Regional General Manager for Oceania, William Glenwright, were expected to meet Fiji's sports minister Filipe Bole and the Fiji Rugby Union's interim chairman Rafaele Kasibulu before meeting with the union's board.

The IRB is unhappy that the FRU's board and executives were pressured to resign by the military government, saying such interference in the sport infringed rugby's constitution.

Glenwright told Fiji media a statement would likely be made when the meetings concluded.

Conflict between the Fiji Rugby Union and the government has been simmering since Commodore Frank Bainimarama, an avid rugby fan, seized power in a coup in December 2006.

The latest and most serious dispute between the union and government arose when Fiji's Commerce Commission investigated the union's handling of a national lottery organised to partly fund Fiji's participation at this year's Rugby World Cup.

The commission alleged the union had illegally discounted tickets and that it could not reconcile revenues from the lottery with the number of tickets reportedly sold.

It also claimed lottery revenues had been used to fund trips for union officials to sevens tournaments in Hong Kong and Britain.

The government accused the union of mismanagement and said it would withhold $F3 million ($A1.6 million) in funding for Fiji's World Cup campaign unless the union's board and executives resigned.

Chairman Bill Govoka immediately stepped down, handing the chairmanship to Kasibulu, and the board then sought to resign en-masse.

The union's constitution specifies board members cannot be elected or dismissed except by its affiliate members at an annual or special general meeting.

The IRB warned that any abrogation of the union's constitution could jeopardise Fiji's position as a member "in good standing" of the IRB, technically preventing it from participating in international rugby.

In a statement last week, the IRB said it remained concerned that the current situation could threaten key IRB-funded development and high performance programs, as well as Fiji's 2011 Rugby World Cup preparations.

Rugby is Fiji's national game, making control of the union a significant issue in the Pacific nation.

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