More home games but more growth expected: Fijian Drua CEO

PHOTO: Fijian Drua

Fijian Drua will have more home games in their second year of Super Rugby in 2023 but may not see a big improvement in results, says new CEO Mark Evans on Tuesday.

The Drua managed two wins to finish 11th in the 12-team competition this season but played only two games in Fiji due to COVID-19 and logistical issues.

Fiji’s first professional sports team hope to host six games in the Pacific nation next year as they look to build on their debut season under coach Mick Byrne, but CEO Mark Evans warned fans not to have high expectations.

“In very, very difficult circumstances, I think they did a really top class job in the first year,” Evans told reporters of the Drua staff and players.

“But there’s a lot of things in the second year that are different.

“Anybody who thinks that it will go onward and upward in a steep improvement curve has never played pro sport.

“That’s just not how it works all the time. But I do think it’s a great base … I do think there’s still a lot of growth left on the field and off the field.”

Evans, an experienced rugby administrator in Britain and Australia, replaces Brian Thorburn, who was appointed as an interim CEO to help build Drua from scratch and steer it into Super Rugby with established Australian and New Zealand teams.

One of Drua’s goals is to add depth to Fijian rugby and provide a path into the national team.

Outgoing boss Thorburn said the Drua had contributed 16 players for the last Fiji squad and the chance to represent the country at the World Cup in France would be a huge motivation to perform in 2023.

“Our guys next year are going to have the World Cup to set their sights on,” he said. “Let’s hope many of them get on the plane to France,” he said.