12 May 2016

Sport: Pacific misses out on World Rugby Council seats

1:40 pm on 12 May 2016

Governance issues have scuppered the Pacific Islands' hopes of individual seats on the expanded World Rugby Council.

Georgia, Romania and the USA were welcomed to the top decision-making table for the first time at the governing body's annual meeting in Dublin on Wednesday, after achieving the required good governance criteria set out in November.

The Council approved wide-ranging reform of its governance structures last year, including increased representation for tier two unions and regional areas.

To be eligible for Council membership, unions needed to be in good standing with World Rugby and be able to demonstrate good governance practice, including a fully applied constitution, bylaws and regulations and five years of unqualified audited accounts and AGM minutes.

Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have each had their issues with World Rugby in recent years and did not meet the required criteria, with the Pacific still represented by one Oceania delegate.

The Samoa Rugby Union committed to implementing governance, management and financial reforms following talks with World Rugby officials last year.

The world governing body suspended direct funding to Fiji Rugby for much of 2014, citing its failure to implement key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms.

Meanwhile Tonga's Rugby Union and the Tongan government agreed to a package of reforms last month after talks with World Rugby, that were designed to address unresolved administration and governance issues, the union's debt and outstanding legal cases.

The TRU has only been in existence since 2013, following the expiration of a two-year ordinance, imposed by the Tonga government, to address concerns from the then IRB over how the former union was being run.

World Rugby said the pathway remains open for all and it will continue to work with unions to ensure they are best placed to achieve the criteria.

Georgia celebrate win over Tonga RWC2015

Georgia beat Tonga at last year's Rugby World Cup and now have an individual seat on the World Rugby Council. Photo: PHOTOSPORT