Rugby in islands to foster growth

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Fiji Rugby Union operations manager Jiko Matawalu during an interview at Rugby House in Suva on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Decentralising rugby will bring the unprecedented growth of the sport not just on the mainland but in outer islands as well.

This, according to Fiji Rugby Union operations manager Tiko Matawalu while highlighting the advantages of taking rugby matches to the islands.

The Northern teams in the Skipper Cup and the Vanua Championship have been hosting their matches on their own grounds, taking the sport to the people at the grassroot level.

Kadavu, since joining the Vanua, has hosted several matches at the Namalata Central School ground.

“With the limited venues that we have here in the mainland, we have the opportunity to decentralise the games and make sure that we can tap into those venues out there. For example, Kadavu, we are taking the games closer to the people and tapping into those new areas that we haven’t reached before,” the former national rep stated.

“That’s the growth that we want, it’s not only about growth here in the mainland but we are able to extend, expand the game to the grassroots and into the islands.

“We have Malolo that can venture into that, Yasawa can take their games to the islands, we have Kadavu and Taveuni already doing that.

“It might come with costs, but we need to grow the game by taking it close to the people rather than centralising everything here on the mainland especially in the city.”

This also holds the potential for infrastructure development in the islands.

“It’s only through that the focus can be decentralised so when games are taken out, we will look beyond the central scope. That will be followed by developments taking place out in remote areas.”

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