‘New proposal similar to colonialism’ says ex-Pacific Island rugby star Daniel Leo

Former Wasps and Samoa star Daniel Leo compared the situation to colonialism after hearing about World Rugby’s plans to exclude Pacific Island sides from a proposed World League.

While it was a bold statement from the Pacific Rugby Players’ Welfare member , you cannot ignore how big an issue this could be.

The 12-team World League is currently expected to feature the sides from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship as well as the United States and Japan.

Rugby is very much an old boys’ club, whether we like it or not.

The likes of England, Australia, New Zealand have all reached the upper echelons of rugby, by winning the World Cup, and their ability will never be in question.

On a financial basis, The USA and Japan make sense as markets to exploit. Major TV Networks will spend millions to get the rights to show games. A promise of England v New Zealand at Twickenham will undoubtedly draw huge numbers, but there are still massive doubts over the quality of certain teams.

The USA are still growing their professional club league. The Japanese Super Rugby side, Sunwolves, don’t utilise their homegrown talent, the Italians very rarely win games at the international level, and the Argentines haven’t fared that well in recent years either.

Now if you think about the Pacific island sides and the players that they have produced, you can typically name some of the best players to have ever played the game. Rupeni Caucaunibuca was a prolific try scorer, where ever he played his rugby, Brian Lima was renowned for his bruising defence and Leone Nakarawa offloads the ball like he’s playing basketball.

Rumours have been circulating that each team involved will be given eight figure sums for their participation, an extraordinary amount considering that the unions of the respective teams are some of the richest in the rugby world.

Surely that money would be better off going to a developing nation like Fiji, Samoa or Tonga. Give them the money to help them keep hold of their players, be able to pay players a decent sum to play for their country, rather than choose between club and country.

Sir Bill Beaumont has called a meeting between all tier-one countries – along with representatives from Fiji and Japan – and will gather in Dublin at the end of March.

Amongst the things being discussed will be promotion and relegation to and from the World League.

‘Ring-fencing’ the league would – in effect – end the hopes of emerging European sides like Georgia, Russia and Romania as well as the Pacific Island nations of getting more regular competition against the top nations.

It has since been reported that 600 members of the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare will vote over whether a boycott of this year’s Rugby World cup.

But what do you think?

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