Furious Pacific Islander Proposes Radical Response To World League Snub

Boycott.

Controversial plans were revealed yesterday for a 12-team ‘World League’ that would see Japan and the USA join the Rugby Championship and the Pacific Island nations ‘locked out’ of Test rugby for at least 12 years.

The plan is to have the new format in play by 2020, with 12 teams set to compete. The 12 nations will be the current Six Nations – England, France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland and Wales – the current Rugby Championship sides of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina plus Japan and USA who are going to be invited to join the Rugby Championship.

The new format will require all 12 nations to play each other once in the calendar year, with a semi-final and final to be played in late November, possibly early December. Organisers are hoping to get the deal signed off before the Six Nations and Rugby Championship renegotiate their current broadcast deals, but opposition for the proposed tournament has been strong.

The International Rugby Players Council is not happy and have warned of serious “player welfare and integrity concerns” around World Rugby’s proposed competition structure for the global game, while former Samoa lock Daniel Leo has called for a Pacific Islands boycott of the World Cup if plans to exclude Fiji, Samoa and Tonga from the league are ratified by rugby’s governing body.

“I’d find it hard to believe that Pacific Island teams will turn up for The World Cup knowing that we are being screwed over,” Leo told The Irish Times.

“If I was in the Pacific Island unions now I would very strongly be considering the next course of action if this is the way we are going to be treated.”

“I know there is a huge chunk of support among Pacific Islanders players, even those who play for other nations. That’s where our power lies. The sport has been built on Pacific Island muscle since it went professional. It makes you think, as a player, what leverage do we have? The only leverage we really have is not to play.

“I hope it is not too late to be reversed, especially after all the animosity towards the proposal in the last 24 hours since the plan was leaked. You got to hope common sense will prevail.

“The writing has been on the wall about the priorities and values of the game of rugby, Pacific Islanders have known that for decades. World Rugby are not even trying to hide it anymore. This puts it out there for all to see. We know the game of rugby has sold its soul.”

[Irish Times]