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Fiji rugby players arrested for breaching virus isolation

Golden days: Fiji players pray after winning the gold in Rio in 2016

SUVA, Fiji, Apr 5 – Two Fiji rugby players have been arrested for ignoring the Pacific nation’s coronavirus self-isolation rules, with local authorities saying their “irresponsible behaviour” would be reported to rugby’s world governing body.

The two men have not been publically identified but the Fiji Rugby Union confirmed they were professionals and media reported them variously to be sevens players and internationals.

The news brought an emotional response from Simon Raiwalui, who works for Fiji Rugby with the title of high-performance general manager.

“For those of you that have chosen not to respect the mandatory 14 day self isolation, shame on you and each of you will have your day of reckoning,” the former Fiji international lock posted on Facebook late on Saturday.

Fiji are the Olympic sevens champions and were third in the current world series before it was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama accused the players of putting “the whole of Fiji at risk”.

He said one player, who arrived from Singapore, “had a high risk of exposure to the virus while overseas” and then escaped from isolation in a Fiji hospital.

“Unlucky for him he couldn’t step his way past our Fiji police force. He has been arrested and is in isolation at Nadi hospital,” Bainimarama said.

The Fiji Rugby Union would take “appropriate disciplinary actions against the professional rugby players, including reporting this highly irresponsible behaviour to their clubs and World Rugby,” chief executive John O’Connor said.

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“The Fiji rugby family wants to put on record our great disappointment at the irresponsible behaviour of these two players putting their families and other Fijians at risk.

“Such irresponsible behaviour is totally unacceptable, and we support the actions of the police in arresting these two players and any further action taken against them.”

Raiwalui echoed the sentiment on Facebook.

“When you chose to continue to shake hands, you choose to continue to meet in groups, you chose to stay out after curfew, you chose to party through the night in groups, you chose to leave a self isolation hotel because you want to go home, you p*ss on the sacrifices that these front line workers make and you put every person in Fiji in danger,” he wrote.

“Pull your heads in and get with the program before it is too late.”

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