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Editorial: Onus on Fiji, Tonga, Samoa To make good Use of $54m Investment by World Rugby

Editorial: Onus on Fiji, Tonga, Samoa To make good Use of $54m Investment by World Rugby
November 12
12:37 2017

The 19 per cent increase in funding by World Rugby for Samoa, Tonga and Fiji in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup 2019 is good news and Pacific islanders should all be grateful.

The $54 million boost should make the three island nations better prepared to produce a better standard of rugby at the four-yearly event in Japan.

We have proven in the past that we have fared well at the RWC event with a shoe-string budget.

Samoa reached the Cup quarterfinal in 1991, 1995 and Fiji in 1987, 2007 while Tonga beat tier-one France 19-14 in pool play at the 2011 RWC.

We have ample time to prepare and the funding will allow Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to beat tier-one nations and aim to be in the semifinals and finals of the RWC.

With the three island nations in Europe currently for the end of the year November tour, the funding also covers the players’ welfare and tour expenses.

This includes insurance costs, squad assembly, including flights to Europe from each of the Pacific Islands and internal flights.

But the bulk of the investment will be directed towards the respective high-performance programmes aimed at closing the performance gap between them and the top-ranked teams.

The investment includes significant support for world-class coaching, technical advisors and improvements in strength and conditioning, sports science and medicine.

The successful implementation/performance of the 2016 -19 four year programme by the three nations enabled World Rugby to increase funding,

This includes:

  •       Tonga winning against Italy last November;
  •       The outstanding performance of the Fiji Airways  Flying Fijians winning four consecutive tests against Italy, Scotland, Tonga and Samoa during June-July;
  •       Fiji Airways Drua reaching the semifinal in its maiden year at the Australian National Rugby Championship.

World Rugby is also working in partnership with Pacific Rugby Players (PRP), the official representative body of the players of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and a member body of the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA).

PRP board member/former Samoa captain Seilala Mapusua said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with World Rugby on player welfare initiatives for Pacific Island rugby players.”

Through this partnership, we have a powerful approach to player welfare that allows us to make a meaningful difference and have a long-term impact for the benefit of Pacific Island players.

PRP represents more than 400 professional players globally and is led by Mike Omega, Dan Leo, Manu Tuilagi, Nemani Nadolo, Mako Vunipola and Charles Piutau.

World Rugby and PRP have done their part. The onus is now on the three nations to make good use of the assistance and eventually make an impact, like never before, at the 2019 RWC.

Osea Bola


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