Departing Fiji sevens coach says unlicensed agents are stripping region of finest talents

Fiji rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan. Photo / Getty
Fiji rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan. Photo / Getty

Departed Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan has urged World Rugby to crack down on unlicensed agents who're stripping the Pacific Islands of their rugby talent.

Ryan has likened the situation to the Wild West, telling the BBC crooked agents are making false promises again and again.

"We've got no licensed agents in the Pacific. Anyone can do anything, so it's the Wild West in that respect," the 45-year-old told the BBC.

"The guys now are starting to turn up for all these other national sides."

A number of Fiji's Rio squad have signed with top European clubs, and Ryan said the country was at risk of losing their top players to other countries in the 15-man code.

"Unless you've got a full test cap, you can't come into the (English) Aviva Premiership, and it's a lot harder to come into the UK, so the French are poaching everyone," he added.

"The closest professional league to us (Fiji) is the ITM Cup in New Zealand and you can't go there as an islander unless you're still able to be qualified to be an All Black.

"So they get players there that spend two or three years, they get a Super Rugby contract dangled in front of them, and they don't then come back across to play for Fiji. Australia's the same."

He says players are lured overseas to provide for their families but end up representing other countries.

"In 10 years time, if things don't change, I see an Australian side with half their team coming from the islands, at least," he said.

"I've heard of at least another dozen coming through the Australia ranks.

"There will be four or five others in France without doubt, because I know there are young kids there who are phenomenally talented and a year off getting residency, so it's inevitable unless we make something happen quickly."

- NZ Herald

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