Poor, poor Fiji.

The RWC game France v Fiji was extremely disappointing for me, apart from the score, it’s sad to see one of the most exciting rugby teams in the world having to recycle Serevi, a player whose most trenchant supporters would admit, has passed his peak, added to the likelihood that one of the most exciting wingers in the world will probably observe the rest of the tournament from the spectators seats. In the words of Professor Sumner-Miller, “why is this so?”

I suspect it has something to do with the state of FRU’s financial situation. Witness the statement of the ex Tongan captain who wouldn’t play for his country because he would only get about $450 a game compared to the $60,000 he is earning whilst playing in the UK. And I understand that he’s not the only one ! How many players from the Pacific islands are not playing for their national teams because of the financial consequences ?

Manu Samoa coach John Boe scoffs whenever someone talks of fostering the global game of rugby. To the former All Black fly-half, the rhetoric rings hollow when he finds himself constantly prevented from fielding his best players for Test matches, and even the World Cup.

“The disappointing thing is that we have never even tried to get players like (All Blacks) Tana Umaga and Mils Muliaina to play for Samoa,” Mr Boe said. “We are only looking at the second tier of players but we can’t even get them. We have to settle for club players. Some 80% of my squad are playing club rugby in Auckland or Wellington.

No-one will admit it, but many Super 12 and New Zealand NPC players are told that if they want to keep their contracts, they cannot make themselves available for Samoa, Tonga or Fiji.”

Consequently, I’m a little flabbergasted when I read what O’Neill says

“[the IRB] has reaped more than £50 million ($121 million) already with the ARU to hand over another $25 million…… He notes the Pacific Island states such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa sought more funds from the IRB. But the main sources of revenue for rugby – broadcasting, sponsorship and gatetakings – are limited in those countries.”

Money, money, money, is that all Rugby administrators can think about ? How about the IRB funding a separate Pacific Islands team to be included in the Super 12’s and paying the players to stay in the Southern Hemisphere with the special provision that they are released to play in RWC ? Or if individuals choose to go to play in the UK (or France or Italy) their pay is subsidised so they can play for their national team in the RWC without loss of income. And while we’re talking about where the RWC riches are to be distributed, how about a payment to any national union that makes it to the RWC with a larger proportion to those unions such as Romania, Georgia, Uruguay and Argentina and a lesser proportion to those unions that have access to ‘traditional’ sources of revenue.

I think it’s time that the old fuddy duddies of the IRB woke up to the fact that they have a responsibility to expand the game to the world and not sit on huge financial windfalls used for the aggrandisement of a few insiders. I hereby submit my name as some one who would happily travel around the south Pacific organising a Super 12’s team.

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cs
cs
2021 years ago

Good thoughts all Woodsy … and I reckon we coulda just had an Aboriginal welcome and the world in union song, and then given over the rest of the $5 million opening ceremony to the poorer unions as well … just a lota crap for a game of football in my book …

… mind you, despite the scorelines, I’ve been surprised by some of the skills and ticker in the lesser ranks … those Italians showed some dash and put on some good hits … and if Dickenson hadn’t scored a try for the Scots early on (that was a knock-on, I thought … and another Scot try also looked pretty doubtful), Japan would have had the first upset …

… but whatever, O’Neill needs to stop just looking in his mirror and bank account … well said.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2021 years ago

Wayne,

I would think thus far Rugby fans need to have a big think about this ‘World cup’.

No game has been close and consequently only fans such as yourself would like the games.

You really need to emulate the world cup. Both south korea and Turkey made the semi-finals. most games were close and exciting.For Rugby to make it onto the world stage there needs to be some chance for most teams to make the semi-finals.
Teams such as Argentina, Japan, Italy, Canada need to be able to go onto the field with a reasonable posibility of winning.

In football no club is allowed to ‘ban’ players from playing for their country. Rugby needs to something about this.It needs to ensure rugby minnows can call on players who are playing in Europe full-time.

I am hoping to see a competitive rugby game before the Melbourne cup. Will it happen?

woodsy
woodsy
2021 years ago

I think the comparisons with soccer are unfair, rugby is a much more complex game where every position demands a specialist, compared to soccer where, with one or two exceptions, all that is needed is to be able to run and kick (oh, faking injury is a skill required by all). Consequently it requires humungous amounts of money and many years to assemble and train a rugby team to the level reached by Oz etc. or, as is the case in NZ, adoption of the sport as THE national game, much the same as in e.g. Cameroon. Until that happens, there will always be a huge gulf between the top teams and the also rans, a gulf that no amount of passion and courage can bridge.

With the enormous sums of money the IRB and ARFU will make from this tournament they should be looking at ways of providing the cash half of the equation and helping the minnows on to the path of welding their nationals into better teams. And IMO, that process should start in the Pacific islands, all the precursors necessary to create fabulous teams are there, all that is required is a bit of vision from the ARFU. NZRU and IRB. What do you think ?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

I just want to know how Rupeni Caucaunibuca manages to have shorter legs than me and a bigger gut, but still be one of the world’s best and fastest wingers. It’s not fair. But he doesn’t seem to be over-endowed with brains, judging by his effort in using his elbow against the side of the head of an opponent who wasn’t looking (although the referee and touch judges certainly were).

As for the short-sightedness of rugby officialdom, their failure to foster the game properly in smaller countries is matched by the ARU’s specific failure to develop a decent national competition here to give fans something to watch every week in a normal season once the Super 12 is finished. The professionalism and athletic standards of both players and coaches from the top few rugby nations has grown remarkably since the inception of the World Cup, but the abilities and vision of administrators just haven’t kept pace. Most of these silly duffers (most of all O’Neil) couldn’t organise a chook raffle in a pub. We should do a Soccer Australia job on them and sack the lot before they drag the game down just like soccer (although at least there isn’t the ethnic rivalry factor).

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2021 years ago

Wayne

One problem with adding a Pacific Islands team to the Super 12. It wouldn’t be the Super 12s anymore. It would be the Super 13s.

Doh!

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“How many players from the Pacific islands are not playing for their national teams because of the financial consequences ?”

Well…count up all the Pacific Islanders playing for Australia, New Zealand et al and you have one answer. Another more comprehensive answer is available from an analysis of the comparative advantages and disadvantages between living in Fiji/Tonga/Samoa on the one hand and the metropolitan Pacific “super powers” on the other. Manu Samoa consists largely of NZ-resident Samoans who, like 50% of all Samoans, reside outside Samoa for a host of reasons that largely coalesce around the socio-economic. Fiji is in better shape economically but their star players will inevitably be attracted to the vastly more superior opportunities offered by NZ and Australia. And they go well beyond the matter of salary.

On the other hand, the star players in the Italian side turn out to be a couple of Kiwi’s who apparently got lost after the Munich beer festival and ended up playing rugby for Azzuria.

It’s now a professional game and nationalistic considerations inevitably move to second-tier importance in the matrix – whatever the hype might be.

BTW, giving money to the likes of the clapped-out feudal kleptocracy that is the “government” of Tonga would do little to enhance Tongan rugby but a great deal to enhance the already over-inflated Swiss bank accounts of the Royal House.

woodsy
woodsy
2021 years ago

A bigger gut ? C’mon Ken, nobody’s got a bigger gut than you, at least nobody that wears a shirt with more than 8 on the back. And as for how fast they run, have a look at Rococoko and the other quickies in the Fiji teams, they seem to have developed an amazing ability to glide over the ground – wonderful to watch. Have you heard about Caucau yet?

woodsy
woodsy
2021 years ago

Wasamatter Geoff, did a Tongan government official knock back your AusAID proposal? Organising a PI team rests upon it being done with an eye to putting money into the pockets of the players rather than propping up a ‘clapped-out feudal kleptocracy’ – that’s why it would have to be done by an objective, sober, rugby-minded person with experience in administration and a penchant for lying on south pacific beaches drinking beer; me!

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2021 years ago

Wayne,
I hope you don’t think I was knocking Rugby.
I want to see some contests.
I usually enjoy international rugby but I haven’t watched a full game yet because I have yet to see a contest. I know who is going to win.
That is the problem of the World cup. I don’t want to wait for the Semi-finals to see a decent contest.
Allow for a bit of hyperbole but I have been quite dissapointed thus far.