rugby world cup 2019

Pacific players call for major rule changes after World Cup disappointments

7 Comments
By Adrian Warner

The head of the body representing Pacific region rugby players will fly to the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday for crucial talks about improving the plight of those from countries such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa who have failed to make an impact in Japan.

Tonga and former quarterfinalists Samoa have already missed out on a place in the last eight this time, and defeat to Wales on Wednesday would put Fiji out of the tournament by the time Pacific Rugby Players (PRP) union chief Aayden Clarke arrives for meetings in Tokyo with governing body World Rugby.

New Zealander Clarke is looking for significant changes to the regulations on the availability of players for national teams and on switching nationalities.

"At the core of many issues is the fact that the players do not get paid well for playing for their country," Clarke told the Global Sports Forum chatroom organized by data company Refinitiv on Tuesday. "Twenty percent of the professional players across the globe are of Pacific decent. We play a huge role in the game.

"The Pacific island players will remain a feature of the game across the world. For the sake of rugby, we also need the countries they come from such as Tonga, Fiji and Samoa to be competitive. Often the model of distribution of World Rugby funds to the Pacific does not work as effectively as it could... Now is the time (for change)."

Clarke did not go into the details of his proposals before the World Rugby meetings. But former Ireland international and coach Bernard Jackman told the Forum that Pacific players who had played for Tier One countries should be allowed to switch back to their former nations at the end of their careers.

"I would like to see an amnesty of some sort where players that have played for tier one countries through residency can re-grade down to their home nation after they retire from that team or go abroad," Jackman said. "Having coached in France, I also know how difficult it can be for some Pacific Island players having to choose between club and country."

One of the biggest problems for the Pacific nations is a lack of regular international rugby at the top level.

World Rugby's recent plans for an annual tournament of the Tier One Six Nations and Rugby Championship countries teams plus two other countries gave hope to the Pacific islands.

But the idea was dropped in June because of a lack of support from the northern hemisphere.

Clarke said he still hoped to see Pacific Nations playing in the Championship in the southern hemisphere, though.

"The global calendar is not fair at all. The recent Nations Championship global competition was killed by a few northern unions. We need quality competition for the Pacific teams," he said.

"The best answer currently being discussed is creating a second tier Rugby Championship - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina in the top tier and then Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. There are also discussions on how to include the United States."

Clarke said PRP was about to launch the first ever Pacific Agent accreditation system, so that players could be represented better in their negotiations to move to Tier One countries.

"It's very difficult to implement, given all agents live across the globe, but it is a start," Clarke said. "Our education to parents and young players is working well. It is not always about money, but making sure their welfare is being cared for and that good career decisions are made," he said.

"Parents sometimes push their children to the first offer. They have no idea if it is good or bad."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
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"The best answer currently being discussed is creating a second tier Rugby Championship - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina in the top tier and then Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. There are also discussions on how to include the United States."

Is that not the Pacific Nations Cup? How about join the two with relegation / promotion? (Ignoring the fact that SA isn't in the Pacific, and Argentina only just)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about join the two with relegation / promotion?

I like this idea. It would be great.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Something definitely has to be done.

The majority of RWC group games have been (and usually always are) largely irrelevant.

Japan seems to have broken through and now kind of straddles Tier 1 and Tier 2, but the other Tier 2 nations are miles away.

The Pacific island players need more reasons to stay with their native countries. This probably comes down to money, so I think the main solution will be related to getting a lot more funding to the Pacific island nations governing bodies.

Sure the best players can still go and make their money playing in the best leagues, but that shouldn't automatically mean changing allegiance, especially after only 3 years of residency - that rule should be increased to at least 5 years.

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HBJ ,

especially after only 3 years of residency - that rule should be increased to at least 5 years.

It will be from Dec 2020.

This probably comes down to money, so I think the main solution will be related to getting a lot more funding to the Pacific island nations governing bodies.

I agree, but they have to make sure that funding is used properly, by and for the right people. It hasn't in the past.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11619699

(the headline to that article is: Pacific Island rugby not helping themselves, and it's from 2016)

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How about join the two with relegation / promotion? (Ignoring the fact that SA isn't in the Pacific, and Argentina only just)

Am not against the idea in principle but this would hurt (massive understatement) the relegated union, especially Oz/argies (and even saffas). Oz rugby has been struggling financially for years (near bankrupt) and 12 months - possibly 24- without playing at least 1 ideally 2 bledisloe cup games on home soil (2 x 70-80k), a couple of 30-40k games vs saffas & argies would financially ruin the ARU. The NH are having the same issue with 6N & Georgia, Romania etc Scots, Italians and others just can't afford a year without the 6N, 3 x 60k home crowds, TV $ etc.

I'd like to see the RC & 6N expand -eventually- not kick Italy, sco, oz, or whoever finishes last, out.

Re PI rugby, a 100% P.I super rugby franchise based in auckland/sydney would imo make more sense (sanzaar again rejected the Fiji/P.I bid last year).

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Japan has broken through to be between tier one and two BECAUSE it includes so many Pacific Island players. No other reason.

Just change eligibility to that of soccer... Tier one teams lose some of their best players and Tonga, Samoa and Fiji could field world class teams.

Easy Peasy!

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Hi goldorak,

Yep, good points. But all the more motivation to avoid relegation, I guess. And I think you’d be lucky to get 80,000 to a Bledisloe game these days.

Six Nations could expand easily, but the travel factor of TRC alone makes that one difficult.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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