Fiji upset as World Rugby ignores team at awards ceremony

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) " The Fiji Rugby Union will express its "concerns and disappointment" to World Rugby after its Olympic gold medal-winning sevens team won none of the major prizes at the sport's annual awards ceremony on Monday.

Fiji was overlooked for the Team of the Year award, which went to New Zealand's All Blacks, who posted a world-record 18 consecutive test wins before losing to Ireland in Chicago last week.

It also missed out on Coach of the Year award " which went to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen over Fiji's England-born sevens coach Ben Ryan " and Sevens Player of the Year award, won by South Africa's Seabelo Senatla.

In a statement Tuesday, the FRU questioned why none of its "deserving nominees" received an award at the glittering ceremony in London.

It said that, while it respected the achievement of the All Blacks, it believed Fiji's gold medal success was more significant.

Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to claim an Olympic medal when its men's team won the sevens tournament at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Sevens rugby is Fiji's national sport, part of its national culture, and the gold medal success galvanized the country.

Ryan and the players were rewarded by the Fiji government with cash payments and awards of land.

The FRU said it believed the impact of its sevens team " which won back-to-back World Sevens titles before winning gold in Rio " "had a far greater effect on the game of rugby globally" than the All Blacks.

"We believe our sevens team, with the meager resources available to them, have outperformed any other team in 2016," the FRU said. "The rugby world expects the All Blacks to do well because they have all the resources available to them.

"The impact (Fiji sevens player) Osea Kolinisau has had on the game of sevens in the last two seasons far outclasses any performance by Seabelo Sanatla."

Fiji said it is "in the process of expressing our concerns and disappointment to World Rugby."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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