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Fiji Airways disappointed with Fiji Rugby for not promoting vaccination message

Fiji Airways say they are disappointed with the Fijian rugby team for not sporting special jerseys with the message 'Vaccinate Fiji' during the first Test against the All Blacks last night.

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The relationship between the airline and Fiji Rugby is now up in the air. Source: 1 NEWS

The team decided to scrap the jerseys after it was sprung on them by their sponsor Fiji Airways, with some players reportedly not in support of the message.

"As you can imagine it's a delicate subject for some so it was probably better to just have a clean jersey at this stage," coach Vern Cotter said after the game in Dunedin.

In a statement, Fiji Airways said they were "naturally disappointed" with the decision.

"We had given up our space to push an important, life-saving message to support the efforts of Fijian frontliners battling the Covid outbreak," the statement said.

Fiji reported 506 new cases of Covid-19 and one death in the 24 hours to 8am yesterday, down from 860 cases and three deaths on Friday.

Fiji's jerseys were left vacant after a late change to remove a 'vaccinate' message from the playing kit. Source: Photosport

There have been 52 deaths since the outbreak began in April.

The country's compulsory vaccination stance has divided its people, including its rugby team.

"The players are quite religious and have a lot of strong beliefs in their faith and if their ministers - who are held to a high regard - are promoting anti-vaccination or not actively supporting the rollout then their congregation will follow the same lines," Pacific GP Network chair Dr Api Talemaitoga told 1 NEWS.

"Any form of rugby is important and very well followed in Fiji so that's why I thought wearing the jumper - if they agreed to it - would've sent a very clear message to the population back home."

It is now uncertain what the decision may mean for Fiji Rugby's relationship with the airline going forward.

Fiji Rugby were unavailable to comment today.