Fiji coach slams European clubs
November 11, 2012
Fiji endured a difficult day at Twickenham © PA Photos
Fiji coach Inoke Male accused European clubs of harming his side's prospects on the international stage after their 54-12 defeat to England at Twickenham.
In the build-up to Fiji's tour, there were accusations the European clubs were, contrary to International Rugby Board regulations, refusing to release players to the tour party. The Fijian Rugby Union lodged a formal complaint after Racing Metro lock Jone Qovu withdrew from their squad dur to injury but subsequently played for his club in the Top 14.
The French Rugby Federation responded by banning Qovu until December 4, thereby ruling him out of the rest of Fiji's European tour, which sees them play Gloucester on Tuesday before games against Ireland A and Georgia. And with just one full training session behind them before taking on England at Twickenham on Saturday, Male believes his country's ability to compete with the top nations is being undermined.
"We lost some of the boys earlier in the week. Some of them weren't released by clubs and some were not available until the last minute, about four players," Male said. "Had they been available we would have given England a game.
"Unfortunately, we haven't got the luxury of having players together for two weeks, like England; we had three days together. The turnover time (until the Gloucester match) is just two to three days. It is not to our advantage but we will try to win the game before we meet Ireland A on Saturday.
"Fiji would be quite happy to have England coming (to Fiji) every year. Tier One nations should give the Pacific Islands more games so we can develop our rugby."
Male also believes the type of rugby being played in Europe is harming the high skill levels the Fijian players are renowned for.
"Some of the boys that came to Europe lost their touches in Europe," he said. "The Fijian players are more dangerous when they have the ball in hand. We didn't have that today (Saturday) and I think that's why we lost the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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