16 Sep 2016

Sport: Samoa denied chance to qualify for Women's Rugby World Cup

12:59 pm on 16 September 2016

Samoa will not have the chance to qualify for next year's Women's Rugby World Cup after being denied entry into the Oceania qualifiers.

The Manusina are the only Pacific Island country to compete at a Women's World Cup and finished 11th at the last tournament two years ago.

But coach Ramsey Tomokino says Oceania Rugby decided in March to exclude them from November's inaugural Oceania Women's Rugby Championship because Samoa did not have a local women's competition.

Manusina coach Ramsey Tomokino.

Manusina coach Ramsey Tomokino. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"It's surprising and disappointing at the same time and obviously there's been a lot of good work that's been done in the past, in terms of being able to attend those Rugby World Cups, and to be ranked where the women's rankings are when they came out from when they were released by World Rugby," he said.

"There is a pathway for a Pacific team to be there but we've been excluded from that and it's up to one of Fiji or PNG to try and represent the Pacific.

"It is disappointing and it's probably a really sad let-down for a lot of the Samoan-based girls that were really looking forward to playing in the Women's Rugby World Cup. We struggle to find sevens players - women that are keen to put their hand up - but there's no shortage of fifteens players across Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

"There are a lot of disappointed and angry girls, actually, that are only just learning about this. Everyone wants to ask the question, "Why?" It just is the fact through poor governance (from the Samoa Women's Rugby Union - a separate entity to the Samoa Rugby Union) there was no domestic competition, or it's ended somewhere and not carried on."

Ramsey Tomokino said when they were informed Samoa did not meet the criteria for entry into the Oceania qualifier they did their best to try and set up a domestic competition but were unable to do so.

He said they were also invited to apply for a special dispensation but that too was rejected.

Samoa Manusina vs. England at the 2014 RWC in Paris.

Samoa Manusina vs. England at the 2014 RWC in Paris. Photo: Picarel / IRB

"I might get in trouble here but you could be a conspiracy theorist - there were people in that committee from New Zealand and Fiji in there also. Obviously Fiji get to play in the match (against Papua New Guinea) and obviously (there are) lots of New Zealand based Samoan players. I could be way off the mark there but it was an odd decision that was made," said Tomokino.

"Look, if it was the men's game there would be a big uproar and it just wouldn't happen - you'd have your 11th-ranked team would be at a Rugby World Cup, possibly. It doesn't make sense...they just focused on the here and now."

The winner of the Oceania play-off between Fiji and Papua New Guinea will take their place alongside two Asian teams in the final qualifying event in Hong Kong in December.

New Zealand and Australia have already qualified for next year's tournament in Ireland by their top-seven ranking from the last edition in two years ago.