International Rugby
Mannix: Fijians paid to spurn RWC spot
ESPN Staff
November 7, 2012
Racing Metro's deputy coach Simon Mannix directs his troops, Agen v Racing Metro, French Top 14, Alfred Armandie stadium, Agen, France November 4, 2010
Simon Mannix has alleged that players were paid to not play in the World Cup © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Simon Mannix
Teams: Fiji | France | Racing Metro

Ex-Racing Metro coach Simon Mannix has claimed that some of the club's players were paid to declare themselves unavailable for the 2011 World Cup.

The tournament overlapped with the Top 14 season and under International Rugby Board Regulation 9, clubs are required to release their players for international duty during certain windows throughout the season. The World Cup is one such event where clubs are obliged to allow their players to turn out for their respective nation but Mannix claims that Racing Metro paid some of their Fijian contingent to spurn international advances to focus on the Top 14.

He told the Independent: "Racing M├ętro had Fijians who declined to go to the World Cup ... because the club gave them a cheque if they stayed here [in Paris]."

Racing Metro president Jacky Lorenzetti has hit back at the claims. "(The accusations) make me laugh, especially coming from Simon Mannix. Nothing else to add," Lorenzetti told Rugbyrama.

And former Fiji fly-half Nicky Little has said that the practise of paying players to turn down international calls is nothing new in the European game. He said: "For many seasons, European and UK-based Islanders have either been blackmailed not to play for their countries, or had pay docked when they were with their national teams."

With the next World Cup set to take a similar format to the 2011 structure, some of Europe's top teams will once again be forced to cope without several of their key players.

"The IRB [International Rugby Board] are aware of this practice. It is imperative that the World Cup is defined by the best playing against the best," chairman of the International Rugby Players' Association Damien Hopley said. "We look forward to receiving a formal response to a problem that is threatening the integrity of this fantastic competition."

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