Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Fiji off the grog

The leading Rugby World Cup story this week, as far as I'm concerned, is not the fact that Gavin Henson will now miss the tournament so that he can work on his tan for the new domestic season. Nor is it Brian Ashton's attempt to create the slowest back row in international rugby since records began.

No, the main news is that the Fiji team will be off the booze during the tournament and will be placed under curfew, only being allowed limited contact with friends and family.

According to Fiji's high performance manager, Peter Murphy, the Fijian players' use of kava will be restricted to traditional ceremonies, consumption of alcohol will be closely controlled and players will not be allowed to mix with family and friends at the team hotel to ensure they remain focused on the rugby.

Ironically, this is the same Peter Murphy who was arrested and charged by police in Fiji over the weekend for drink driving, another embarrassing incident involving the Fijian management team following last month's police caution to coach Ilivasi Tabua and his former backs coach Iliesa Tanivula after their partying in the early hours of the morning provoked complaints by neighbours. Perhaps it's the management who should be under curfew?

The Fijian public appear largely to support the alcohol restriction, judging from the reactions in The Fiji Times, a number which point out that Fijians don't know the meaning of "just a few beers". The best response however is that of "Peter of Fiji" (presumably not Peter Murphy) who innovatively suggests that the Fijians should:
"Just take some designated drinkers with them. I suggest national trials for designated drinkers next week. Trialists must be able to drink grog for minimum of 12 hrs and drink beer for minimum of 2 days."

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