It was ‘same old, same old’ when Samoa, Fiji and Tonga were left out of rugby’s plans for a global league this week.
The Pacific Islands produce the most gifted players on the planet and what do they get in return? A bum deal, every time.
What have the USA done to earn a place ahead of Fiji and Georgia? You guessed it… they’ve got dollar bills and shiny stadiums.
Rugby will disappear if it’s not driven commercially but there has to be a balance when they’re making these decisions.
There’s also the player welfare angle. You’re asking international players to play in a 12-team international league and a 12-team club league. The average retirement age will get lower by the year. It’s mental. I thought the retirement of guys like Sam Warburton and Sam Jones in their 20s would have been a wake-up call. It doesn’t seem that way.
These proposals smack of making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It’s greed.
If Joe Marler was CEO of a rich union (God help us) then the first thing I’d do is stop flying the old blazers around the world on jollies and give some of their champagne money to the Pacific Islands.
They need help to develop their unions and governance in order to compete. Closing the door with this World League isn’t going to help achieve that.
These countries already lose half of their players to France, New Zealand and England and they’ll have none left if they’re consigned to a second-rate competition.
If you took away the Pacific Island talent pool then England and France would lose half their starting team, while New Zealand would have to give back all their World Cup medals.
Guys like Manu Tuilagi, the Vunipolas, Seilala Mapusua, Elvis Seveali’I and Tani Fuga would not have lit up the Premiership if wasn’t for the Pacific Islands.
If you shut them out, it would be an outrage.