Fiji upset as World Rugby snubs team

International
AFP
by AFP

The Fiji Rugby Union will express their disappointment to World Rugby after the nation's Olympic gold medal-winning sevens team missed out on the major prizes at the sport's annual awards ceremony.

Fiji was overlooked for the Team of the Year award, which went to New Zealand's All Blacks, who posted a world-record 18 consecutive Test wins before losing to Ireland in Chicago last week.

They also missed out on Coach of the Year award - which went to the All Blacks' Steve Hansen over Fiji's England-born sevens mentor Ben Ryan - and Sevens Player of the Year award, won by South Africa's Seabelo Senatla.

Ben Ryan helped deliver Fiji's first Olympic medal. Photo: Getty ImagesIn a statement Tuesday, the FRU questioned why none of their "deserving nominees" received an award at the glittering ceremony in London.

While they respected the achievement of the All Blacks, they believed Fiji's gold medal success was more significant.

Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to claim an Olympic medal when their men's team won the sevens tournament at the Rio Olympics.

Sevens rugby is Fiji's national sport, part of their national culture, and the gold medal success galvanised the country.

Ryan and the players were rewarded by the Fiji government with cash payments and awards of land.

How the world reacted to Fiji's victory. Photo:Getty ImagesThe FRU believed the impact of the sevens team - who won back-to-back World Sevens titles before winning gold in Rio - "had a far greater effect on the game of rugby globally" than the All Blacks.

"We believe our sevens team, with the meager resources available to them, have outperformed any other team in 2016," the FRU said.

"The rugby world expects the All Blacks to do well because they have all the resources available to them.

"The impact (Fiji sevens player) Osea Kolinisau has had on the game of sevens in the last two seasons far outclasses any performance by Seabelo Sanatla."

Fiji said they are "in the process of expressing our concerns and disappointment to World Rugby."

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