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Fiji threaten to pull out of NZ and Australia 7's


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Article Published: Monday 23 May 2011


Sevens Rugby stars Fiji have threatened to boycott sevens tournaments in New Zealand and Australia if travel bans on players linked to the Pacific nation's military regime are not removed.

Fiji are still the biggest draw card in sevens and a tournament without them would not be seen as a complete tournament.

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) said it was committed to fielding a team at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand later this year but may skip the Wellington and Gold Coast legs of the World Sevens Series if the bans remained in place.

Wellington and Canberra imposed the travel bans in 2009 after Fiji's military strongman Voreque Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, reneged on a promise to hold elections.

FRU chairman colonel Mosese Tikoitoga said he had written to the International Rugby Board (IRB) telling it Fiji may pull out of the tournaments if it could not send its best team.

"Next year, we may have to forego the New Zealand and Australian legs," Tikoitoga told the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

The ban prevents all players and officials with ties to Fiji's military from travelling to Australia and New Zealand, meaning Tikoitoga would also be unable to attend the events in Brisbane and Wellington.

He said he had told the IRB that barring players from military backgrounds amounted to interference in team selection.

The World Sevens Series is due to open in Australia's Gold Coast in late November this year, with the Wellington leg in February 2012.

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