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World League Leaving Pacific Islands Rugby In The Cold

Pacific islanders deserve better and hopefully World Rugby will reconsider. If they really believe in fair play and want to grow the game globally.
04 Mar 2019 15:16
World League Leaving Pacific Islands Rugby In The Cold
Fiji Rugby Cibi

World Rugby denying Fiji, Tonga and Samoa completely from the proposed plan for a World League tournament would leave rugby union in the islands in the cold.

Ever since the controversial plans came to light, which could come into play as early as 2020, the chorus of disapproval is growing louder by the day.

Outspoken critics have gone to the extreme of calling for a boycott of the Rugby World Cup by the islanders.

We can’t blame them for taking an extremist viewpoint because the three nations have struggled to stay in the game, trying to be competitive despite operating on a shoestring budget over the years

World Rugby has contributed a lot in the development of the game in the region. But undoubtedly the World League would build a wider gulf than ever between tier one and tier two countries.

If indeed it comes into fruition, the three Pacific Island nations will be omitted from an annual 12-team international competition, with no chance of inclusion for the next 10 to 12 years in favour of the more prosperous nations Japan and USA.

The exclusion means missing the opportunity to play regularly against tier one nations.

But more than that as it denies a share of the $10-14 million per year participating countries will get-compliments of an unknown broadcaster which has tabled an offer for the broadcasting rights.

The three island nations have contributed immensely to world rugby and they can’t be denied time and again in the name of progress and more money for the others.

They have all proved their ability on the world stage beating tier one nations and they deserved absolute recognition for their effort.

Obviously the decision for the World League is for commercial reasons. With a combined population of just 1.2 million between the three countries, the market is not comparable to the vast audience potential in Japan (126.8 million) and the USA (325.7 million).

Based on current performance, Fiji deserved better treatment because they are growing from strength-to-strength over the past few years under the guidance of Fiji Airways Flying Fijians  head coach John McKee.

A gradual climb on the world rankings following a string of positive results against tier one sides – including a landmark 21-14 win over France in Paris last year – has seen the Fijians in ninth place, higher than Argentina (10), Japan (11), the USA (13) and Italy (15), all of whom are included in the World League plans.

Pacific islanders deserve better and hopefully World Rugby will reconsider. If they really believe in fair play and want to grow the game globally.

 

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