Australian Government announces funding boost for Fijiana and Fijian Drua teams
In a momentous development for Fijian rugby and the code’s fans across the Pacific, the Australian Government has announced a substantial funding commitment to support the Fijiana and Fijian Drua teams.
This investment, as part of the next phase of the PacificAus Sports funding initiative, guarantees their participation in the Super Rugby Pacific and Super W competitions for the next four years.
Since their inception in these competitions, both the Fijiana Drua women’s team and the Fijian Drua have made significant strides. The Fijiana Drua, in particular, have been on a remarkable journey, securing back-to-back Super W titles in 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, the Fijian Drua created history by making their first Super Rugby Pacific finals appearance this year.
The success of these Fijian teams has not only been a source of pride for their nation but has also had a positive impact on Fiji’s national team. An impressive 18 players from the Fijian Drua were included in Fiji’s Rugby World Cup squad, leading to a historic quarter-final appearance last week – the first in 16 years – where they were gallant in a 30-24 loss to traditional heavyweights England.
Pat Conroy, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, said in a statement, “Australia and Fiji share a deep love of Rugby. Rugby doesn’t just build mutual respect and pride; it brings our nations together through shared goals, heroes and achievements.”
The $6.2 million funding commitment builds upon the previous $3.75 million investment made over the last three years, which played a crucial role in establishing the Fijian teams and facilitating their entry into Super Rugby Pacific and Super W competitions.
“The Albanese Government is proud to support the continued growth of the Fijian and Fijiana Drua. Our partnership will support Fijian players to live, develop, and play professional rugby in Fiji and inspire a new generation of girls and boys across our region,” added Conroy.
— Fijian Drua (@Fijian_Drua) October 16, 2023
Mark Evans, CEO of the Fijian Drua, expressed gratitude for the generous support of the Australian Government, emphasising the significance of this funding for Fiji’s only professional sports franchise. This support makes it possible for young Fijian athletes to pursue professional rugby careers in their homeland.
“The Drua are indebted to the Australian Government for helping make dreams come through for our players,” Evans said.
Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh also lauded the investment in Fijian rugby and its flow-on impact to the game in Australia.
“Rugby is the sport of choice for the people of Fiji, and the Fijian teams have lit up Super Rugby Pacific and our Super W competition, creating new rivalries with Australian teams and captivating new and old rugby fans with their exciting approach to the game.”
“Rugby Australia is eagerly looking forward to the next four years of collaboration with the Australian Government and rugby partners across the Pacific, strengthening the bonds between our nations through the universal language of rugby.”