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World Rugby defends its investment in Pacific nations Fiji, Tonga and Samoa
3:46 pm GMT+12, 09/11/2017, Ireland

World Rugby says it has already increased its investment in the Pacific Islands after the Samoa Rugby Union declared itself bankrupt.
 
The game's governing body has released figures provided in the region - covering Fiji, Tonga and Samoa - which amount to more than £20m (US$26 million) in a four-year period from 2016, a rise of 19 per cent.
 
Working with Pacific Rugby Players, the body presenting players in the area, it says it has been aiming to close the gap between those nations and leading teams ahead of the next World Cup.
 
Peter Horne - World Rugby's general manager for high performance - said: "In the 2016-19 cycle, World Rugby will invest an estimated £20.3m(US$26.6 million) in programmes for Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
 
"This programme is reaping benefits with the outstanding performances of the Flying Fijians this year as well as the World Rugby-funded Fijian Drua, competing in Australia's National Rugby Championship as a pathway for local players.
 
"Tonga's win against Italy last November was a big push towards their Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification and we'd love to see similar results from them and Samoa this November.
 
"As we work towards RWC 2019, we need to ensure the three Pacific Island teams are as competitive as possible.
 
"This increase in world-class staffing and support will really benefit the squads (and is) an increase of 19 per cent on the last cycle."
 
World Rugby's announcement follows the Samoans' declaration of bankruptcy this week through their chairman Tuilaepa Sailele, also the country's prime minister.
 
A JustGiving page has since been set up to raise £150,000(US$197,000) to support players from the nation but by Thursday lunchtime had generated just £1,072(US$1,409)
 
Ahead of their match at Twickenham on November 25, the RFU has said it will donate money to the Samoa Rugby Union.
 
Former Samoa international Dan Leo has said World Rugby must intervene regarding foreign academies or he believes problems will get worse.
 
The RFU made a similar gesture last year, handing over £75,000 (US$98,608) to Fiji when they toured the northern hemisphere.
 
Samoa play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday and will remain in the UK until after they play England, meaning their squad and staff will be in the country for around three weeks.
 
Pacific Rugby Players board member and former Samoa captain Seilala Mapusua said: "We are delighted to work in partnership with World Rugby on player welfare initiatives for Pacific Island rugby players.
 
"Through this partnership, we have a powerful approach to player welfare that allows us to make meaningful difference and have a long-term impact for the benefit of Pacific Island players.
 
"A strong player association in the Pacific region is important and we have the support and buy-in of all men's and women's elite teams in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.".

SOURCE: SKY SPORTS/PACNEWS


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