Fiji Rugby introduces full-time contracts for sevens stars
Fiji coach Ben Ryan discusses the introduction of full-time contracts for national sevens players.
The Fiji Rugby Union is introducing full-time player contracts for the upcoming World Sevens Series.
Up to 15 players will be paid an annual salary of between fifteen and twenty thousand Fijian dollars, while there will also be bonus payments for a top-five finish at tournaments and winning key matches or meeting certain fitness standards.
Fiji Sevens coach Ben Ryan told Vinnie Wylie the move is a big step forward for Fiji Rugby.
BEN RYAN: Since I got in place one of the things I immediately saw was our inability to hold onto our players [or] have any control at all over them. They were going abroad, they were playing club games the day before we were leaving to play away so it's good to be able to do that now. The opportunity is for the boys to attract a salary that, in Fijian terms, is pretty good.
VINNIE WYLIE: Has the money or the finances always been available for this sort of thing in Fijian rugby and is it just a matter that it hasn't been put in place? I know there was a number of sponsorships over the past year that the union's managed to get - has that given you guys the ability to that?
BR: I think probably the finances have always been there to get full-time contracts. Without wanting to sound like I've come in and been a knight in shining armour I'm not sure it would have happened if I hadn't got the job and pushed for full-time contracts. We're not talking about a significant amount of money. Our entire budget for full-time players is 350,000 Fijian which equates in english terms to about 110,000 pounds so it's a fraction of what the big teams have but it's a start.
VW: It's incentivesed as well: you've got $20,000 for the top tier and then $17,500 and then $15,000. Can you just explain how that will work?
BR: You have to change your contracts depending on the situation and it's very different from the structure I put in place with England. With Fiji you have to pick on form. There's such a huge base of players playing domestically and some players do still spring out of nowhere if you haven't seen them on the circuit and there has to be the opportunity to reward those guys and offer contracts to bring them into a central system. So players can move up and down within the contracts if they're not performing, they can move out of contract if they're not deemed good enough to be one of the top fifteen and they can obiously move in and then we have bonuses based upon top five, so everything from a Plate win upwards. They used to have bonuses from quarter finals but top four is where we have to be - semi finals and higher every tournament - so bonuses reflect that really.
VW: Do you get the feeling the players are buying into that?
BR: I do, yeah. we haven't got the same set up as the big teams around us in the top six, that will now have a couple of weeks off from Commonwealth and then have a full-time program in place every day but what we will have is just the next step: the ability to have the top fifteen players available when we need them.
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