FRU refuse to comment on Qovu case

Former Flying Fijians Number Eight Jone Qovu attacks in Racing Metro club colours in the top division French competition. He told Fijian officials that he was injured yet played for his club last weekend. Photo: Planet Rugby

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive Manasa Baravilala refused to make a comment tonight concerning the FRU making a formal complaint to their French counterparts over star lock Jone Qovu withdrawing from their November Test squad claiming he was injured before playing for his Top 14 club Racing-Metro.

“I cannot make a comment at this stage because the case is with the IRB,” Mr Baravilala said.

The report by Planet Rugby claimed the French Rugby Federation (FFR) has taken immediate action in telling Racing that Qovu will not be able to play for his club during the period when Fiji are playing their three Tests, last weekend against England, against the Irish and on November 24 against Georgia in Tbilisi.

The Fijians had informed the FFR in September that they would be requiring four Fijians who play in France including Qovu. However, Qovu said he would be unable to join up with the squad as he was injured, but then played for Racing against Perpignan in their Top 14 clash on October 27.

“We asked Racing to explain to us why the player in question had refused to join up with the squad, if he really was injured and if that was the case how was he then fit enough to play against Perpignan,” an FFR source told AFP on Saturday.

“We never received a reply. This week, the Fijian Federation wrote to us again to say that Qovu had not joined up with them.

“It was not the club that opposed him joining up with his national squad but it was the player himself who informed his Federation.”

Racing’s Swiss president Jacky Lorenzetti told AFP that the club had nothing to reproach themselves over the Qovu affair but had been an innocent party and was going to pay for it.

“We have put together a file which we will pass on to the FFR which will show that the club has nothing to do with this affair,” he said.

“What is damaging to the club, is that the FFR, without even hearing our version of events, suspended Jone Qovu till December 4. We are going to try and have this suspension lifted.”

This move by the Fijian Federation comes days after Racing’s former coach Simon Mannix revealed in English daily The Independent that the Parisian club had paid three Fijians, including Qovu, to not play for Fiji in last year’s World Cup.

This was entirely against international regulations, and something which the sport’s governing body the IRB felt obliged to re-emphasise following Mannix’s revelations – which were strongly denied by Racing – on Wednesday.

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