Fiji Rugby says it will need NZ$10 million to get the final nod in the Super Rugby competition, starting next year, issuing a call for private investment to back up its plans.
The call follows stringent conditions set by New Zealand Rugby, requiring FRU to hold substantial cash assets and provide financial guarantees to show that it is capable of sustaining a team for the duration of the competition.
In return, FRU is offering investors’ majority ownership of the entity, which will own and operate the team, but at the same time allow it “an appropriate say in policy and key decisions around the team.”
FRU CEO John O’Connor said “Private capital is a fact of life for sporting teams and franchises around the world, and we are embracing it. We intend to seek NZ$10 million in capital and we’re confident that our proposal will attract strong interest from Investors in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. Ideally, we’d like Fijian investors also, but we’re looking for either a single investor, or at most 3 or 4 entities to back our team.”
“The prospect of the Fijian Drua playing in Super Rugby will be a dream come true, if we can meet the financial hurdles needed to sustain such a team. Having the resources to offer competitive playing contracts to not only bring our best players home, but to keep our best local talent in Fiji is our key objective. We want to field a team that is capable of reaching the Finals in its’ first year and winning the competition within 5 years.”
FRU General Manager Commercial Brian Thorburn will spearhead the search for capital, and will work with an appointed financial advisor to finalise the transaction by the end of March.
Meanwhile, Rugby House has also finalised and presented to NZRU its business plan that outlines financial targets, the initial playing squad and coaching structure, as well details the complete administrative structures to support the team. The business plan envisages playing at least six home games in Fiji each year, against blockbuster teams such as the Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues, Reds and Brumbies.
O’Connor noted that like the arrangements for the Drua’s entry into the Australian NRC in recent years, the operations of the Drua will be conducted through a separate company structure, with its own Board of Directors, and administration, separate to the FRU.
“We are adopting a structure very similar to those which operate at existing provincial unions in Australia & New Zealand”, O’Connor said. “The team will have their own Head Coach, and coaching structure, and there will be a Chief Executive Officer and back office support team. We expect to have a 37 man playing squad in Year 1, with coaching & administration staff of up to a further 28 people”.