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World Rugby refute Steve Hansen's Pacific Islands criticism
10:26 pm GMT+12, 08/09/2019, Ireland

World Rugby says it has pumped a record $115 million into supporting second tier nations at this year's Rugby World Cup after a claim by Steve Hansen that it does not do enough for Pacific Island teams.
 
Hansen hit out at the game's governing body after the All Blacks' 92-7 win over Tonga in Hamilton on Saturday.
 
He said teams such as Tonga, Samoa and Fiji did not get enough test matches between World Cups.
 
"The problem that we've got is a calendar that doesn't allow you to do that," Hansen said.
 
"We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game but we don't have an organisation at the top that wants to be strong enough to say, 'Righto, this is what we're doing, we're going to have a global season'."
 
Hansen said the Six Nations "rule world test rugby programmes. They don't want to give that up and until they're prepared to give that up, we're not going to see any progress in that area."
 
World Rugby responded with a statement to England's Daily Telegraph newspaper, claiming it had "committed a record £60million (US$73 million) support package for the teams outside of the 6 Nations and Sanzaar to compete at Rugby World Cup 2019".
 
"One hundred and twenty of the 150 coaches and support staff involved in these teams have been identified and funded by World Rugby, while the Americas and Pacific combines and Fijian Drua are ensuring an environment that enables these unions to retain and develop their best young local talent and many of these players will feature at Japan 2019."
 
World Rugby gives £250,000 (NZ$477,000) a year to supporting the Fijian Drua playing in Australia's National Rugby Competition.
 
It also funds the salaries of the national team coaches of Fiji (John McKee), Canada (Kingsley Jones) and Namibia (Phil Davies).
 
The World Rugby statement did not, however, address Hansen's concerns about the lack of a global calendar and the difficulty for Pacific Island teams to get test matches.
 
The All Blacks have played 47 tests since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, compared to 21 for Tonga.
 
Hansen sympathised with Tonga counterpart Toutai Kefu.
 
"It's really difficult [for me] when your players play for five different franchises in New Zealand," he said.
 
"So I can only imagine how difficult it would be when your players are playing all over the world and you're bringing them back and you don't have much time to prepare them."
 
Hansen predicted Tonga would  "get way better by the time they get to the tournament.".

SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS


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