7s brawl blamed on racist jibe
January 7, 2002

Fijian officials have blamed racist jibes from All Black players for the brawl that marred the latest World Sevens Series tournament in Chile.

The savage brawl between the two giants of the 7-a-side game had to be broken up by police and stadium officials.

Both New Zealand and Fiji, who competed against each other at the IRB Sevens semi-finals, are facing judicial hearings today over the brawl which ended only when armed Chilean police went onto the field.

Fiji Rugby Union Board member Bob Challenor said the New Zealanders should be thoroughly investigated for their "unprofessional tactics".

"We've been told that they often use racial remarks to provoke our boys," Challenor told the Daily Post.

"They've been doing it for a long time and getting away with it."

He did not specify what the remarks were but the New Zealand team is dominated by Pacific Islanders, most of them Polynesian, while the Fijians are mostly Melanesians.

Both teams face an anxious wait to see if they will be punished for their part in an ugly all-in brawl.

Among the penalties facing the Kiwis are suspension from the IRB World Series or the loss of points.

New Zealand won the match 19-17 and went on to take an incident-free final against Argentina (21-7) to stay atop the World Series standings.

However, an IRB judicial committee may strip New Zealand, the defending champions, of points for their part in the brawl, which saw Fiji's Canterbury and Crusaders wing Marika Vunibaka cited after he ran 50-metres to start the fracas.

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