Rugby: Fiji short-changed for England clash

Fiji winger Nemani Nadolo in action against England during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Fiji winger Nemani Nadolo in action against England during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Fiji's players are set to earn just £400 (NZ$700) each for Saturday's sold-out Test against England after the RFU turned down their request for £150,000 of the bumper revenue.

The Twickenham showpiece is expected to generate up to £10million, but England chiefs have only agreed to give £75,000 as a gesture of goodwill to the cash-strapped Pacific Islanders.

Eddie Jones' stars will earn £22,000 (NZ$38,600) each and Sportsmail understands the Fiji camp are deeply disappointed with the settlement offered to them by the world's richest union.

Host nations are not obliged to share any revenue with their opponents, but Fiji feel they deserve more of a cut because England have not played in Suva since 1991.

A source told Sportsmail: 'It's fine for the big nations like South Africa because they get their pay day when England go back to play in Durban and Johannesburg.

'These guys rarely come to play in Fiji so there's very little revenue there. It's not reciprocated. The Fiji players are only getting pocket money. They're disappointed.

'A £150,000 allowance would have gone a long way because Fiji Rugby are working on a shoestring. They have a limited amount of kit because of things like excess-baggage costs.'

Due to funding shortages, the squad are believed to have used a free training pitch while in camp in Toulouse, where they stayed in Ibis hotel rooms costing less than £50 a night.

RFU CEO Ian Ritchie signed off the deal with his Fijian counterpart, having recently earned a £100,000 bonus after helping generate a £407.1m turnover in 2015-16.

World Rugby pay for Fiji's economy airfare, while the tier-one host union are obliged to pay for the cost of hotels, food and coach travel during their time in England.

Furthermore, the Fijian union are fighting to keep hold of emerging players because of the talent drain sparked by the three-year residency rule.

Fijian youngsters are being poached by foreign scouts, with Ben Ryan, the Olympic Sevens-winning coach, comparing the unregulated market to the 'Wild West'.

Nathan Hughes is the latest Fijian to qualify through residency, with the Lautoka-born No 8 due to make his full England debut on Saturday against his country of birth.

The RFU recently announced record profits of £102.3m. The RFU were unavailable for comment on Monday.

- Daily Mail

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