3 Jun 2011

Fiji union seeks quick decision on Rugby World Cup ban

6:31 am on 3 June 2011

The Fiji Rugby Union says it needs a definitive answer on whether it will be able to send its strongest team to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup.

The New Zealand Government bans travel to this country by Fiji military personnel and their family members, in response to the 2006 military coup.

The International Rugby Board says although it would like Fiji to select its best players, it respects New Zealand's immigration policy.

Trials for the Flying Fijians World Cup squad are being held in Suva on Friday and the Fiji union's chief executive, Keni Dakuidreketi, says they need a definitive answer sooner rather than later.

The head of the IRB says talks are continuing with the Government about its stance on Fiji's participation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has told the IRB there will be no relaxation of the ban on members and associates of Fiji's military regime entering New Zealand.

Mr McCully says there is no sign of a move towards democracy in Fiji, and changes would be needed for the ban to be relaxed.

IRB chief executive Mike Miller says the issue is clearly a sensitive one. "We've been having meetings for the last few months; we'll continue to meet on the subject," he said, adding that debating the matter in public will not help push the matter forward.

Mr Miller is confident that Fiji's best players will take the field later this year.

The Fiji Rugby Union says it won't boycott the Rugby World Cup over New Zealand's travel ban, as the country's Olympic Committee has suggested.