After being accused of pressuring the Samoan and Tongan players to make them miss the World Cup this year in order to stay with their clubs in France’s Top 14, there has been an angry reaction from fans on Twitter.
For the Pacific Island players, the majority of their revenue comes from their clubs, usually in France, which means it is easier for owners and senior personalities to compel players to avoid the tournament that could occupy the first three months of the season for some players. Fans have bought their Rugby World Cup Tickets online and hoping for their favourite players to perform well in the tournament.
However, many fans have called on Twitter for World Rugby to take action to avoid this from happening. It’s something that has happened at every World Cup, and for the competition to develop, level two teams must line up their top teams. However, this is simply not possible if the European clubs hold certain players from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji.
Already this year, Fijian stars Nemani Nadolo and Timoci Nagusa, who both play for Montpellier, have announced their withdrawal from international rugby, which means they will stay in their clubs. At age 31, Nadolo would have been a valuable asset to Fiji, the 20-year-old winger who has been one of the deadly players in Europe over the past few seasons.
Compared to Samoa and Tonga, Fiji may have a little more depth, which means that the loss of some players will not affect the team too hard. However, if the other two lose some of their star players, this could have catastrophic consequences on their performance.
Former Samoan internationals Dan Leo and Junior Poluleuligaga also expressed their opinion. Poluleuligaga describing the state of affairs as “déjà vu”. During their career, they may have been faced with these pressures, especially since more money is injected into the game.
World Rugby has already been criticized this year for treating the nations of the Pacific with its League of Nations proposal. Therefore, to prevent further abuse against these players, fans are calling for intervention from World Rugby.
Of course, this leaves many actors in a delicate position in which they must choose between representing their country and earning enough money, and there is no measure to mitigate this problem. But that does not prevent this from worrying the fans for a long time.
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