Brive set up shop in Fiji
Brive set up shop in FijiSHARE
French Top 14 club Brive is setting up an academy in Fiji in the hope of securing a steady stream of talent from the rugby-mad Pacific island nation.
The academy will open in February at the Ratu Navula College in Nadi, the Fiji Times reported.
It said Brive rugby director Nicolas Godignon had won permission from Fiji education authorities to establish the facility, which he described as a long-term project aimed at helping prepare young players to secure professional contracts in France.
"The academy will focus on training and guiding the players to become professional players so that they can improve their playing career," Godignon told the newspaper.
The 25 players selected for the academy will have specialised training and also take French language classes.
Brive already has five Fijian players – Benito Masilevu, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Malakai Radikadike, Venione Voretamaya and Sisaro Koyamaibole.
In the past, European clubs have been accused of damaging Fijian rugby by refusing to release their players for international fixtures.
Countries such as New Zealand and Australia have also been accused of tempting the cream of Pacific talent into their national teams with lucrative offers that could never be matched in the impoverished islands.
However, Koyamaibole said the Brive academy would benefit rugby in Fiji by developing professional players.
"We are not here to poach players but we are thinking of their future and if they go through the programme, they can also do further studies in France and follow in the footsteps of some well-known players," he said.