(SUVA) – 15 September 2015. Why does Fiji not have a seat on the World Rugby Council? Argentina, Canada, Japan and Italy have one. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Scotland have two. Since Japan was granted hosting rights for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in 2009 and New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2011, Argentina has been added to ‘The Rugby Championship’ in 2012, and from 2016, both Argentina and Japan join Super Rugby.
Compared to Fiji, Argentina and Japan are more isolated from New Zealand and Australia. In 2007, Argentina lacked regular competitive fixtures. Argentina’s domestic game was amateur with a vast majority of their players plying their trade in Europe. Argentina and Italy are ranked by World Rugby as Tier One nations.
Yet Fiji, a Tier Two nation, is currently ranked ahead of Italy, Scotland, Canada and Japan. In 2006, Fiji had a professional regional competition.
At the 2007 Rugby World Cup Fiji beat Wales to qualify for the quarterfinals taking South Africa to the wire in a physical and competitive game. Fiji currently hopes to be invited to the Australian 2016 National Rugby Championship.
Fiji has the national infrastructure to support international fixtures. Fiji has more registered players than Canada. Rugby in Fiji has been played since 1884 and is one of the oldest rugby playing nations in the World.
Granted the Fiji Rugby Union has struggled to let go of amateurism, Argentina being no different, and fully embrace professionalism. One main difference has been Argentina and Japan having a seat at the World Rugby Council and that influence from within SANZAR.