Nemani Nadolo defends Fiji rugby players as RFU attacked over paltry match fee

Love and camaraderie: Fiji’s Nemani Nadolo says reports the players have been agitating for more money are way off the mark. Photo: Stu ForsterAustralian-raised Fiji international Nemani Nadolo has defended his teammates from suggestions they have been agitating for higher match fees when they play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The RFU has come under fire for rejecting the Fiji Rugby Union’s request for a $250,000 match payment this weekend, instead agreeing to pay half that amount despite a predicted $16 million revenue windfall from the fixture.

The RFU’s $125,000 payment to the FRU will translate to about $660 per player, figures that pale in comparison to the $1m fee the Australian Rugby Union will collect for the Wallabies’ Test against England next month and the $10,000 match payment each player will pocket.

Critics at home and abroad have blasted the RFU’s decision, with prominent English columnist Martin Samuel labelling as “colonialism” the tier-one nations’ treatment of Pacific Island nations.

But Fijian-born Nadolo sought to distance the playing group from the outcry.

“It is deeply troubling to us, not to mention disappointing, that the aforementioned reports suggest we would ever put money ahead of honour and respect for the jersey we have been entrusted to wear,” he wrote on rugby blog rugbypass苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

“If you could spend an hour in our camp you would see that it is love and camaraderie, not money, that binds us together. We are brothers in arms. We play for our families and our people.”

RFU boss Ian Ritchie rejected criticism of the arrangement, saying it was not England’s job “to help fund world rugby”.

At the same time, former Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan has lifted the lid on plans to make a bid for a Fijian Super Rugby franchise, telling London’s Telegraph that backers had lined up $33m in funding and a proposal to build a 20,000-seat stadium in Nadi.

A SANZAAR spokesman declined to comment on the matter, while the FRU distanced itself from the proposal on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it is looking increasingly likely Australia will not be asked to cut one of its five Super Rugby franchises as the four SANZAAR nations agree to delay a decision on the structure of Super Rugby until February next year.

Representatives of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina were meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday and were expected to narrow their options. It is understood there is growing consensus that a reduction to a 15-team competition is the best alternative to the status quo, but with South Africa required to surrender as many as two of its five clubs under that scenario, there is little chance of the proposal succeeding.

That leaves consultants Accenture more likely to recommend no change to the unpopular 18-team format, or perhaps a restructuring of the conference and group season within that.

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