Australia backs Fijian Drua rugby dreams

  • Media Release
16 November 2021

Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja affirmed Australia's support for the Drua and their participation in new Super Rugby Pacific competition in Suva this afternoon.

Under a A$1.8 million (FJ$2.7 million) sponsorship deal with the Australian Government's PacificAus Sports program, the Fijian Drua will compete in the new Super Rugby Pacific competition.

“Australia and Fiji are bound together by our geography, our history, our religious traditions – and our passion for sport,” Minister Seselja said.

“We want to see the talent showcased by Fiji in their Gold medal-winning rugby 7s performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics more regularly on display to the world,” Minister Seselja said.

The new 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition will see the introduction of the Fijian Drua to the world's premier provincial competition, joining five Australian and five New Zealand sides, as well as the Auckland-based Moana Pasifika.

“Our support will build new careers for generations of talent and attract investment to support Fiji's response to the economic impact of COVID-19. We hope it will help Fiji's cultural and economic recovery, and help our countries stay connected,” Minister Seselja said.

“Backing Fiji goes to the heart of Australia's Pacific Step-up – bringing our people together to succeed and thrive. PacificAus Sports support to the Fijian Drua is our way of showing that we understand what it means to be a true partner with Fiji.”

Fijian Drua Interim CEO Brian Thorburn said the Australian Government's support benefits the Drua in a variety of ways.

“Australia has literally made our Super Rugby dreams come true. Their sponsorship has been crucial in getting us to where we are today, just three months away from our historic first match. The Australian Government's backing has also helped navigate international health and travel requirements during this difficult period, protecting the health and safety of everyone involved.”

PacificAus Sports is a flagship initiative of the Australian Government's Pacific Step up, with a funding commitment of $52 million over 2019-2023. It aims to strengthen connections between Australia and the Pacific region by supporting Pacific teams and athletes to realise their dreams in sport.

In addition to backing the Drua, Australia supports Fijian teams to access high level competition and pursue professional sporting careers. This includes supporting the Fiji Kava Kaiviti Silktails team to compete in the NSW Rugby League Ron Massey Cup, a feeder league to Australia's National Rugby League. PacificAus Sports is a foundation partner of the Silktails, who will embark on their third NSWRL Ron Massey Cup season in 2022, arriving in Sydney for pre-season training in January.

PacificAus Sports also supported 170 Pacific athletes in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, assisting access to high level training environments and qualification events. Forty Fijian athletes made it Tokyo, competing in swimming, athletics, table tennis, judo, sailing and the Rugby 7s.

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