Pacific Islands consider Rugby World Cup boycott over World League plans

World Rugby members in Pacific Islands are thinking about boycott of 2019 Rugby World Cup over proposed plans of World League. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are very critical of World Rugby proposal of 12-team World League. New tournament is likely to include teams participating in the Six Nations Championship and Rugby Championship, joined by Japan and United States, from 2020. World Rugby has come under severe criticism over exclusion of Pacific Islands nations. Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are all part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) wants its 600 members to vote whether they should boycott RWC 2019 to protest the plans of revamp in international Rugby tests calendar. PRPW has asked member unions of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to join the protest of Pacific islanders against World League. It has urged other player bodies of the region to join to stop the exclusion of Pacific island nations from the new lucrative tournament.

Pacific islands nations Fiji, Samoa and Tonga may miss World League Rugby tournament
Pacific islands nations Fiji, Samoa and Tonga may miss World League Rugby tournament

Chief executive of PRPW and former Samoa captain said: “Now is the time for the voice of Pacific rugby to be heard through our players. World Cup would lose. I don’t think the competition could go ahead if you took out a quarter of the players. We want to be known as a progressive sport – one that’s inclusive, one that allows sides to be promoted and allows sides to have equal opportunity – but the signs are a bit ominous. This would be a disaster for the Pacific Island nations, and for any nation omitted from the top 12 teams. Even if promotion and relegation were involved, all that would happen would be that the top teams would pull away from the rest. Everyone wants to play against the All Blacks, England, and the top teams. If that is ring-fenced, it becomes a real problem. I don’t think you’d find that it would minimize the number of Pacific Islanders playing in that competition I just think you’d see Pacific Islanders playing for everybody else. Really, there is a lot at stake here.”

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