18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
This would have been in breach of IRB Regulation 9 under which the Unions are obliged to select the best available side and which is rigorously enforced by the IRB. However following discussions between the Japan Rugby Union (JRU) and New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU) and their respective clubs the players have been released and Fiji will be able to select a full strength squad for the tour, which includes internationals against Wales, Ireland and Scotland.
Pio Bosco, CEO FRU: "The Fijian Rugby Union (FRU) is very grateful for the assistance given by the IRB, JRU and NZRFU in our efforts to get our overseas based players released for the tour. FRU is also very aware of the generosity of Wales, Ireland and Scotland rugby unions and indeed the IRB by providing the funds to enable the Fiji team to tour. The least FRU can do to reciprocate is to send a very strong team. To do this it is essential that FRU invokes IRB regulations 9 strictly, which it did."
Mike Miller IRB CEO said: "The ability of all unions to select their best squads for international matches is fundamental to the health of the worldwide game. Regulation 9 ensures that each Union has that ability irrespective of where their players are playing. But as has happened in this case, it is only with the active help of sister unions that both the spirit and the letter of the regulations can be applied."