Outspoken Fiji international Josh Matavesi believes his country is being 'held back' by the lack of competitive fixtures and has called on the International Rugby Board to include them in a leading southern hemisphere tournament.
The Worcester Warriors centre, who qualifies through his father and has been capped six times – most recently against England last November – says Fiji should be added to the Super 15 competition which involves the leading franchises in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Matavesi believes the current system mitigates against Fiji being successful on the international stage, such as when they were hammered 54-12 at Twickenham.
“The IRB definitely needs to look into it because it’s going to be the same thing every World Cup or November tour,” he says. “I think they could do more. It shows with Argentina, if you put them in a good competition they thrive. Italy are doing the same.
“If you are playing against weakened teams all the time then your standards drop and then suddenly if you play a one-off game against England or the All Blacks you get thrashed 90-points, everyone goes ‘ah, Fiji are rubbish’.
“But that’s because our competitions aren’t that great.”
Matavesi’s argument will be particularly relevant this summer when rivals Samoa play in a four-team tournament that includes the Springboks, Scotland and Italy, while Fiji will be left playing nations from rugby’s back waters.
“We are going to be playing USA, Canada, Japan and Tonga. No disrespect but if the IRB wants more competition we need to mix it up and play with the big boys a little bit,” he added.
And he believes going head-to-head with the Brumbies, Chiefs and Sharks would be more beneficial to both Fiji and what is already an appetising tournament.
“Add them into the Super 15, a competition where they are giong to be playing top class rugby every week,” he says.
“That’s going to be better for the IRB if more teams are playing better competitions then at the World Cup it’s not going to be the same four or five teams going through. There’s going to be a bit of a change.
“I think the IRB need to look at that because it’s definitely holding the Pacific Nations back.”
Matavesi’s appearance at Twickenham was his first for two years and his first since revealing that his former club Racing Metro had encouraged him not to make himself available for selection for the last Rugby World Cup.
n Harborne Rugby Football Club have ended their nomadic days by agreeing a ground deal that will provide them with the security they hope will enable them to thrive.
The club, which was formed in 1995, has grown from one adult side to three over the last 18 seasons and has enjoyed close ties with the University of Birmingham but has never actually had a home to call its own.
However, HRFC officials have secured a 15-year lease to play at West Hill Close, just off the Bristol Road in Selly Oak after striking a deal with West Hill Endowment, a move that will give them a base as one of only two rugby clubs within a massive radius.
“It’s a proud day for the club and it secures our future,” said chairman Nick Jackson.
“Our club has had aborted attempts at making a base in the past but due to the hard work of various individuals we have now made sure that there will be a legacy for Harborne RFC.
We can now play our own part in the RFU’s legacy plans.”