Mick Byrne appointed head coach as Fiji targets Nations Championship

Author: AP

Drua head coach Mick Byrne has been hired to guide the Fijian national men´s rugby team as part of an agreement which could see Fiji play in the upcoming Nations Championship.

In a statement Tuesday, Fiji Rugby said Byrne had been appointed after an “extensive and rigorous selection and negotiation process.” That included discussions between Fiji Rugby, Fiji government ministers and sports officials and World Rugby, represented by Nigel Cass and Simon Rawailui.

“World Rugby clarified that (Fiji´s) performance and ranking at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France has put Fiji in strong position to be part of the Nations Championship competition commencing 2026 through to 2030,” Fiji Rugby said in a statement. “It would be detrimental to Fiji´s participation in the Nations Championship, in the 2024 Olympics, in Super Rugby Pacific, the 2027 Rugby World Cup and the rest of the World Sevens Series … if the best qualified and proven coaches are not appointed to Fiji´s high-performance national teams.”

Fiji Rugby said an opportunity now exists for further investment by World Rugby in Fiji´s high performance unit and programs which will help Fiji prepare for the Nations Championship.

The plan is for Fiji to be included in a 12-team competition of Tier One nations made up of the Six Nations – Ireland, France, Wales, Scotland, Italy and England – the SANZAR teams – Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa – Japan and Fiji. “The importance of that opportunity to Fiji Rugby, the Fiji government and all Fijians is astronomical,” Fiji Rugby said. “It guarantees engaging in a high-level competition and potentially hosting five to six test matches against Tier One nations each year between 2026 and 2030.”

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