‘When you go through so many CEOs as FRU has done in the past however many years, it’s not normally the CEO that is the problem’
* Bemoans ‘constant distractions off the field’
* ‘Fundamental changes in governance of the FRU is needed if it is to be successful in the long term’
With less than a week to go before applications close for the position of CEO of the Fiji Rugby Union, the immensely popular Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan has given a devastating interview that clearly suggests the FRU board, the make-up of the board and its conduct had made Radrodro Tabualevu’s position intolerable.
‘When you go through so many CEOs as the FRU has done in the past however many years, it’s not normally the CEO that is the problem,’ said Ryan, who coached Fiji to the HSBC 7s Series title this year.
Ryan’s intervention – couched in the most diplomatic language - suggests just how damaging Tabualevu’s departure is likely to be. Tabualevu had acted as a buffer between the coaching staff – and the wildly irresponsible and meddlesome FRU board that has been under the personal control of Frank Bainimarama since 2011. Since Tabualevu’s departure, Ryan has lost his trusted team manager, former Fiji prop forward Paula Biutanaseva.
Bainimarama took control of the FRU almost six years ago by threatening to withhold government funding for the New Zealand-hosted Rugby World Cup unless the elected board resigned, which they did. Since then Rugby House has had five CEOs in less than five years – Keni Dakuidreketi (resigned June 2011), Pio Bosco Tikoisuva (acting), Manasa Baravilala (sacked September 2013), Dr Berlin Kafoa (acting) and Tabualevu (resigned November 2015). An attempt by the board to appoint former magazine publisher Jeremy Duxbury as CEO in late 2013 was vetoed by the Prime Minister’s Office despite full board approval.