The tournament was initially to be held in the Cook Islands but was relocated to Suva as the teams which indicated their participation found the cost of travelling to and from Rarotonga at the time, to be high.
“We have decided to withdraw from the tournament due to financial constraints,” says CIRU president Moana Moeka’a.
“With teams attending 15-a-side Oceania Rugby tournaments now having to pay for their own airfares, I can understand the reason for relocation. Teams would have had to transit through Auckland as opposed to say, catching a direct flight to Fiji.”
Moeka’a says it is regrettable that they will not be attending the tournament especially after appointments were made for the team just last month.
He adds it would have also given an opportunity for three or four home-based players to attend the tournament.
“It would have been extra tough on us if we had hosted the tournament but we made a commitment to make things happen in our own backyard.”
Moeka’a says this would have meant funding most of the U20 players to fly to Rarotonga and paying for some of the tournament expenses as well.
“We were given until Monday to confirm our participation in Fiji and we decided against going.”
Moeka’a says the money saved from not going to Fiji for the U20 tournament will assist with the men’s and women’s Sevens teams attending the Oceania Sevens in November, and help age-grade Sevens sides participate at tournaments in Auckland in December.
It is understood that only Fiji and Tonga will contest the Oceania Trophy U20s in a one-off match after Vanuatu withdrew from the tournament.
The winner from next month’s tournament will go to the World Rugby Trophy U20s tournament next year and also play in the 2018 Oceania Cup U20s tournament involving New Zealand, Australia and Samoa. - CIRU