Fiji Rugby Union president and prime minister Frank Bainimarama has announced that the country would bid to host a leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Speaking on the one-year anniversary of Fiji’s Olympic gold medal victory, Bainimarama said: "Our men’s Fiji team has been renowned as one of the finest exponents of running Sevens rugby for decades, and we have been a dominant force on the International stage.
"But our country doesn’t currently have a major international Sevens event that places us properly on the world stage. We do not have a major Sevens event that befits our position as Olympic Men’s Rugby 7s Champions”
“Tonight, as President of the Fiji Rugby Union, I am delighted to announce that the FRU will be bidding for a Fijian leg of the World Sevens Series to be played here in our country.
"In the not too distant future when that bidding process commences, the FRU and Fiji will be submitting a bid and putting our best foot forward to host such an event. The opportunity to host a leg may be as early as 2020, it may be later, but we want Fiji to be ready when that time comes.”
The FRU President was expansive in talking about how intrinsic the game of Sevens rugby is to the Fijian people. He said “At home, here in Fiji, Sevens is a way of life.
"In our towns, in our villages, in our schools, in our parks and ovals, on our beaches, Sevens rugby is a hugely important part of our life. It is part of the fabric of our society, part of who we are as a nation,” he said.
The chairman of the FRU, Francis Kean said that the FRU board was making great strides on many fronts in becoming more professional and that its’ recently approved Strategic Plan identified hosting of a leg of the Sevens Series as a key priority.
"The benefits of hosting a leg are truly significant," he said.
"From the financial benefits to our economy flowing from the tourism and spending to the massive global exposure of such an event, hosting a leg of the World Sevens Series positions our country favourably alongside the current other ten cities.
"Plus, it gives our Sevens team a chance to play in front of a home crowd, in front of their families and friends. We will be investing a lot of time, energy and resources over the next six months, putting in the hard yards so that we are ready to submit a compelling bid."
Currently the World Sevens Series is played in ten cities, being Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney, Hamilton, Singapore, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Paris & London.
The countries & cities selected by World Rugby to host a major event of this sort would need to satisfy a wide range of criteria that addressed many aspects, such as the venue, hotels, attendances, to name a few.
Kean said that FRU was announcing its’ intention to bid when that opportunity arises once current hosting agreements expire in 2019.
"It’s early days, and we have much work in front of us, but we are up for this challenge, and we will be ready when the time comes," he said.
Bainimarama added: "We want World Rugby to see the passion of our people, the support of our country and the unique Fijian way.
"We believe that we can mount a credible, professional bid which addresses the needs of modern tournaments. We are announcing this tonight to send the message that Fiji will do what is necessary to present a compelling bid.
"We are asking our Fijian people to show their support. We have the Players, we have the will. We have a government who understands the benefits of showcasing our country to an international audience, and attracting tourism and investment.
"We have a corporate sector who are marketing themselves to a global audience, but most importantly we have a people with passion for rugby and a passion for sevens.
"Tonight, we are asking every Fijian of all ages, from all walks of life to sign up and support FRU’s bid.
"We are launching Fijifor7s.com as a means to capture that support in coming months. We want to show World Rugby the depth of our commitment, the passion of our people and our capacity to deliver."
An important part of the bidding process will be to demonstrate the appetite of the local community to support such an event and FRU chief executive John O’Connor explained that the FRU wants to prove that our people will support a tournament of this stature.
"We believe the Fijian people will really get behind this bid, and we’re calling on Fijians to ‘sign’ up and show that support by registering at a new website established to capture such support," he said.
"When the time comes, we want to show the world that we not only have a team of rugby players, but we have a country of rugby followers. Hundreds of thousands of rugby fans, who will get behind our bid."