ON THE MOVE. A summary in 3 parts of Fijians playing in France and their new clubs. Top 14, Pro D2 and National 1.
By way of an introduction why are Fijian rugby players attracted to France, be it there are the language and cultural barriers.
The average annual wage in Fiji is 50K dollars the same as the minimum wage in France.
Players contracted to Top 14 clubs can expect 700K, Pro D2: 200K, Nat 1: 150 K, Fed 1: 50K Fijian dollars. Benefits will often include housing, medical insurance etc.
So we are four weeks away from Top 14 kicking off the 2021/22 season with an expected return of crowds to the stadia and some welcome income to clubs. A look at each club and those Fijians arriving and their expectations.
Big things at Biarritz
Biarritz: newly promoted and heavy recruitment sees Tevita Kuridrani link up with Henry Speight and Johnny Dyer. The club has let go Isimeli Kuruibua for his first professional contract at Pro D2.
Bordeaux currently have no Fijians contracted.
Brive will look to improve on their mid table finish last season with plenty of Fijians to call on including Tevita Ratuva who arrives from Wales. Mesake Doge has gone in the opposite direction along with Eneriiko Buliruarua to La Rochelle. Joining the Brive academy will be Daniel Fereti, Max Lestro and Joeli Matalaweru, products of Hamilton Boy’s High school in N.Z.
Castres sees Josaia Raisuqe join them from USON Nevers looking to get his aspirations to pull on the ‘White Jersey’ back on track.
Clermont has two departures, Jone Koroiduadua after a short spell as a medical replacement and Tavite Veredamu to Lyon on his first full 15s contract having played for France at 7s.
A name for the future at the La Rochelle academy, Mesake Kurisaru at N°9. As mentioned Buliruarua from Brive to link up with Levani Botia to challenge for honours.
Lyon, just Veredamu in to add to Josua Tuisova, Temo Mayanavanua, Sunia Vuli and Noa Nakaitaci who is out with injury until January.Embed from Getty Images
Montpellier a club influx as the owner wants to his investment see some results, in come Josua Vici from Colomiers and Masivesi Dakuwaqa from Toulon.
At Stade Français prop Luke Tagi leaves for Provence and in comers Janeiro Wakeham to join their academy.
At Pau Watisoni Votu is moving to Beziers.
Perpignan signs Tex and Wiliame
Newly promoted Perpignan sees Ben Volavola return to RC Paris while Tevita Cavubati arrives from England along with current NRL centre Brayden Wiliame and Eddie Sawailau from Valence.Embed from Getty Images
Racing Metro and the fore mentioned Volavola is back to cover for Finn Russell one of the top paid players in the world at 1 million + FJD.
Toulon will see Flying Fijians veteran Leone Nakarawa and Olympic 7s Gold medallist Jiuta Wainiqolo be it a few weeks late.
Finally the current champions Toulouse will have Eto Bainivalu join their academy from New Zealand.
A long list of names but each has his own story to tell. Agents are an integral part, a subject to be covered later.
Written by Marc Thompson. Marc runs a Facebook Page called Fijians Flying in Europe and Beyond. A Pacific Islanders Dream. He’s been involved in Fijian Rugby for over 10 years and keeps a close eye on our boys in the French competitions.