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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
Raiwalui rejects Fiji plea
Simon Raiwalui
Saracens have announced that their captain Simon Raiwalui has turned down a last-minute request from Fiji to play in the Rugby World Cup.

Second row Raiwalui received an SOS from the Fiji Rugby Union on Monday after a back injury ruled lock Ifereimi Rawaqa out of the tournament.

But a statement from Saracens said the player would not reverse his decision to retire from international rugby.

"Despite mounting pressure over recent weeks Simon has asked the club to confirm that his situation has not changed in that he is still retired from international rugby and thus will not be attending the World Cup.

"He has also stated that he hopes this will bring an end to the matter," the statement said.

Saracens expressed sympathy with Fiji's plight but insisted they had not blocked Raiwalui from representing his country.

"Saracens would like to state that it has not in any way ever prevented Simon from being part of the Fiji World Cup squad.

"In fact a fellow Saracen, Nicky Little, has been with the Fijian squad since June in preparation for the tournament.

"The club firmly believes in the IRB (International Rugby Board) regulations on this matter and supports its players in their international roles."

The statement added: "Simon had retired from international rugby while at [Welsh side] Newport, some months before he signed for the club in May.

"His decision was based on family reasons as he and his wife have two young children and, after serving his country on 39 occasions, decided that he didn't want to be apart from his family for the period that the World Cup and its preparations would take up."

Raiwalui, 29, won the last of his Test caps against Scotland in November 2002, having captained his country four times.





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