FRU AGM CONCLUDES; NEW BOARD ALSO APPOINTED

25 APRIL (SUVA) ? The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) concluded its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Novotel in Lami this afternoon with the election of a new board of directors.

The meeting was chaired by the recently appointed FRU President, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with over ninety (90) union officials in attendance.

The outgoing Chairman Filimoni Waqabaca in his report (presented by board member Dr Esther Williams in his absence) said that turning the FRU to a sustainable, financially and administrative strong union practicing good governance principles and processes and dedicated management team to continuously improve and develop rugby in Fiji, was their main objective.

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
?The immediate actions for the first two years included a total organisation restructure, budget deficit reduction plan, financial stability plan, improved revenue including sponsorship, improved financial and IT system, improved record system, improved human resources and governance and Constitution review,? Dr Williams explained.

?In terms of governance, our target was to put in place a new organisation structure, new policies, HR and Recruitment Manual, Staff reviews and assessment, Financial Manual and KPIs and contracts for staff,? she said.

?All sponsorship agreements underwent legal vetting and we ensured the FRU Logo was registered and copyright finalised.

?This was the most critical issue we put right as almost everyone was using the FRU logo illegally,? Dr Williams added.

She said the introduction of a new financial and recording system has been a key achievement.

?FRU will now be able to maintain financial and all other records to ensure timely and accurate data and information that will assist FRU in its operations.

?But more importantly, it will ensure the transfer of knowledge processes for new and existing staff members which World Rugby (WR) highlighted in its review report,? Dr Williams said.

In June 2014, World Rugby, after a series of meetings and agreements, restored funding to FRU. For 2015, funding support is FJD5m.

Dr Williams said World Rugby has agreed to work with FRU as a partner and will engage with FRU in preparation for World Rugby in September 2015; projects that will assist FRU both in terms of operation and policy; training and capacity building, governance and .

?World Rugby is also providing additional assistance in the new engagement including funding costs of senior management staff including a General Manager Rugby.

?And this has largely been due to the fact that WR now acknowledges what the Board has achieved in the areas good governance, management, , administration, games, and player welfare.

She said in February 2014 a sponsorship consortium agreement was signed with Vodafone for cash and kind over a five year period. In 2015 this sponsorship is budgeted at FJD3.1m.

?We thank Vodafone and its consortium partners for their support and commitment to rugby.

?There are other sponsors who have come on Board, big and small, and I thank them all on behalf of the Fiji Rugby Union Board, Council and members for their continued support.

FRU total sponsorship in cash and kind for 2015 totals FJD4.2m.

The Government of Fiji through the Fiji National Sport Commission (FNSC) supports Fiji Rugby meeting the costs of the 7s and 15s coaches as well as participation of our teams in international competitions. We are grateful to the Government of Fiji through the FNSC for this strategic support.

Support from FASANOC is equally and warmly acknowledged.

?When this Board took up office, revenues were down considerably. There was a deficit of FJD$606,647.00 in 2012.

?All the positive outcomes in the past twenty four months have resulted in a healthy financial situation for FRU.

?As the approved audited accounts show, from a deficit of FJD$606,647.00 in 2012, this was turned around in 2013 with a surplus of FJD$63,716.00 and in 2014 a surplus of FJD$586,213.00.

?This is a remarkable turnaround for a small organisation in a short period of time and is attributed to the hard work and commitment of all Board members and FRU management.

FRU has not been in the black for many years.

?Income for 2015 budget for FRU is about FJD12m. This is not a small operation. The goal is to sustain and grow this.

PARTICIPATION
?For Rugby, one significant feature is the growth in player numbers.

In Fiji in 2014, participation in rugby numbers was collected and entered in a database for the first time.

?The target is to increase this number going forward. And for such a small number of people participating in rugby and the high level of success we have had on the international arena in the past 100 years, it is something we should all be proud of.

?Rugby certainly puts Fiji on the map and continues to be a unifying force in the country.

?In terms of the support from fans, they play an important role and strengthen the unifying force of the game in Fiji. A partnership with fans and members of the community in submitting feedback on ideas on improving rugby in Fiji will continue.

MOVING FORWARD
?Going forward, the FRU Board recognises that there will be significant positive challenges for the game. These include:

in key growth areas including sevens and school rugby.
Providing full support for our flagship team, the Fiji Men?s Sevens Team, to ensure they have the best resources and opportunity to be the No.1 Sevens team in the World.
Constitutional Review to be approved. The current 2010 Constitution with changes needs to be accepted and endorsed at an AGM. This has gone through a legal panel. The changes could not be accepted because of the lack of a quorum in two arranged AGMs in 2014.
Sustainability of FRU. It is crucial that other sources of revenues is found. Merchandise revenue has grown in the past year and has much promise. The FRU brand is a good one and is supported locally and internationally.
Commercial opportunities and investment to be pursued.
Keeping good accounts and financial reporting. This is a challenge for FRU as well as all unions. Financial woes have been longstanding and some improvement must be made.
Rugby participation at all levels needs to grow over the next 5 years.

?Communication between FRU management, Board and unions must be improved going forward.

?A ?partnership in rugby? strategy must be implemented.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
?Today?s Annual General Meeting will be the end of the term of the current Board and we wish to thank the Honourable Prime Minister and President of FRU, the Trustees and the Council for your faith in us to undertake a mammoth exercise to right the course of Fiji Rugby.

?It has been an honour to serve the Council, the rugby community and family, and all rugby fans in the past two years.

?We thank all those who have volunteered their time to help FRU in many ways. They include our legal advisors, our marketing and communications advisors, I.T experts and media partners. We thank you all for your time and without receiving any remuneration.

?Again, to the Government, all our sponsors and in particular Vodafone and its consortium partners, thank you warmly for your continuing partnership in rugby.

?To the CEO Mr Radrodro Tabualevu and his team, we thank you for your commitment and hard work in keeping rugby moving ahead in our most challenging time.

?I also thank Dr Berlin Kafoa who carried the Acting CEO role for a substantial period on top of his substantive position at the Fiji National University. He served at the most critical time without remuneration.

?Over the two years, the Board had 25 Board meetings. Sub-Committees met frequently, sometimes every week. I thank their families for their time as I know Directors have sacrificed a great deal.

?So to the Board Directors ? Mr Daniel Whippy, Mr Mosese Taga, Dr Berlin Kafoa, Dr Esther Williams, Mr Napolioni Batimala, Mr Baljeet (Billy) Singh, Mr Carl Ngamoki-Cameron and Mr Filimone Vatuvoka ? a big vinaka vakalevu to you all. Thank you for your support and your commitment to FRU, the players and the unions,? Dr Williams mentioned on behalf of outgoing chairman Filimoni Waqabaca.

NEW BOARD APPOINTMENTS
The AGM concluded today with the un-opposed nomination of the new board of directors.

They are Jay White, John O?Connor, Max Olsen, Tevita Bolanavanua, Ratu Aisea Vosailagi and Carl Ngamoki-Cameron. Ngamoki-Cameron is the only director that was retained from the previous board

Three (3) directors remain to be appointed. The trustees will appoint two (2) while the third will be the Prime Minister?s nominee. The new board of directors are expected meet soon and decide on their Chairman.

The meeting was also observed by World Rugby, FASANOC and the Fiji National Sports Commission.

PRESS RELEASE