CAPTION: Joeli Lutumailagi. File Photo.
The Fiji Rugby Union has today advised overseas based players to abide by their contractual agreements and not play in the local provincial competitions.
The local news had reported earlier this week that Joeli Lutumailagi and Metuisela Talebula who are both in the country have stated that they will play in the local 7s tournaments.
But National Academy Programs Manager Franck Boivert has come out strongly saying that according to their contracts they can only play for their overseas club and the national team this is due to the risk of injury.
“It is specifically written in their contracts that they can play rugby only for their club and the national team.”
“For the French based players they have a mandatory stand down period for recovery that is imposed by the League (Top 14) and therefore when they come home to Fiji this is part of their recovery period that is non-negotiable. The player is not insured by his professional club if he gets injured while playing here in Fiji.”
No penalties are imposed on players that play in the local competitions but the club cannot register a player unless he has been released by his union and there is also a risk of players losing their contracts.
“In the case of overseas players they need a release from the union in which the player is licensed. You cannot play for two unions at one time unless you have been released. In case of an injury the club, the local union and FRU could be held liable.”
Boivert added that he has already received complaints from some French clubs.
“Two coaches and clubs from France have contacted us and were very upset after hearing the news.”
“Should the player get injured from playing, the local club, the local union and FRU could be sued by the professional club if they don’t look after the medical cost.
However this does not apply to international players during the national team’s activities, only during local camps.”
Flying Fijians Head Coach Inoke Male echoed Boivert’s sentiments about the risk of injury but says that at the end of the day it is the player’s choice.
“The players have the right to decide on this issue because that is between them and their clubs. We don’t have any right to stop them from playing in a local competition.”
“Rugby is a high risk injury game so players, management and common sense play an important role here. The players just need to make the right decision, let’s give the freedom of choice and not hold them at ransom.”
Boivert has asked that the players and their families respect their contracts.
“Respect your contract obligations. For the clubs, family and friends please respect the player’s contract by avoiding pressuring him into playing.”