16 Apr 2015

Sport: Northern unions threatened by Pacific rugby potential

2:17 pm on 16 April 2015

The International Rugby Players Association says there is a weird tension at rugby's world governing body, which continues to invest money in the Pacific Islands but is made up of members who are threatened by the potential of teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.

Close to 600 players with Pacific Islands heritage have professional contracts around the world, which is about 15 percent of all full-time players.

The IRPA Executive Director Rob Nichol says the Pacific nations face similar challenges around issues such as player eligibility, finance and foreign clubs targeting their players.

He says on one hand world rugby are doing their bit to help but in the same breath some members feel threatened.

"You've got world rugby placing investment into the Islands, so for example Samoa - eight million pounds over the last 10 years of investment into Samoa - but at the same time those that control world rugby, ala the Six Nations or Scotland and the like, they don't want to see those nations become too strong. On one hand they're investing, wanting to encourage development and wanting to encourage rugby in those nations and then on the other hand there's some really key things they could actually do that would significantly advance the ability of those countries to compete - and they're decisions and changes in regulations that are required at a global level - but they don't happen because it's going to prejudice Scotland's ability to play Samoa".

Pacific rugby nations are scheduled to come together later this month at the Federation of Oceania Rugby Union's AGM in Sydney.