Fiji fume at world awards snub
REACTION: Fuming Fiji said they were gutted that none of their nominees won at the World Rugby awards this week and planned to make their feelings known to the sport's governing body.
New Zealand won a hat-trick of titles at the awards bash on Sunday in London, including Team of the Year, Player of the Year (Beauden Barrett) and Coach of the Year (Steve Hansen).
Fiji's Sevens team, who won the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal at Rio, were nominated for Team of the Year with their English coach Ben Ryan in the running for the top coach accolade but were overlooked for both.
The Fiji Rugby Union felt hard done by and in a statement widely carried by the nation's media said it was "in the process of expressing its concerns and disappointment to World Rugby".
"While we respect the achievement of the All Blacks during the year, we strongly believe that the impact of the Fiji Sevens team winning back to back World Sevens Series titles and more importantly winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games had a far greater impact to the game of rugby globally," it said.
"We believe that our Sevens team with the meagre resources available to them has outperformed any other rugby team in 2016.
"The rugby world expects the All Blacks to do well every time because they have all resources available to them."
Fiji are also upset that South Africa's Seabelo Senatla won the Sevens player of the Year gong, instead of Osea Kolinisau.
"The impact Osea Kolinisau had on the game of Sevens in the last two seasons by far outclasses any performance by Seabelo Senatla and we are disappointed he was not awarded the Sevens best Player of the Year," it said.
Sevens rugby is Fiji's national sport and part of its culture. The gold medal success in Rio galvanised the country with thousands of fans lining the flag-bedecked streets of Nadi to catch a glimpse of their idols on their return.