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Thu Sep 29 12:12:18 SAST 2016

Ryan bemoans 'stripping' of Pacific islands

Reuters | 23 September, 2016 07:58
Fiji won the Olympic gold after beating Great Britain in the final. File photo
Image by: Christopher Lee / Getty Images

FIJI's Olympic gold medal-winning Sevens coach Ben Ryan has urged rugby's governing body to clamp down on unlicensed agents stripping the Pacific islands of talent.

Ryan stepped down after leading Fiji to its first Olympic medal at the Rio Games last month, and the Briton remains appalled by the lack of organised administration for rugby in the region.

"We've got no licensed agents in the Pacific. Anyone can do anything, so it's the Wild West in that respect," the 45-year-old said. "The guys now are starting to turn up for all these other national sides."

Fiji won the Olympic gold after beating Great Britain in the final.

A number of Fiji's gold medal-winning squad have signed deals with top European clubs, and Ryan said the country was at risk of losing its top players to other countries in the 15-man code.

"Unless you've got a full Test cap, you can't come into the [English] Aviva Premiership, and it's harder to come into the UK, so the French are poaching everyone," he said.

"The closest professional league to us [Fiji] is the ITM Cup in New Zealand and you can't go there as an islander unless you're still able to be qualified to be an All Black."

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