Samoa’s Prime Minister has attacked World Rugby’s plans to launch a Nations Championship insisting the proposed structure will mean the Pacific Islands nations will remain as merely “breeding farms” for larger rugby countries.
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of Samoa Rugby, is no stranger to controversy and his comments come as World Rugby chiefs assemble in Dublin to discuss controversial plans for a 12 nation competition that is unlikely to feature Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in the top flight.
Tuilaepa told TVNZ it was clear World Rugby’s supposed development of tier two nations is nothing but hypocrisy and lip service.
“The inclusion of Italy and the United States, who are not in the top 12 world rankings, clearly points to greed and selfishness,” he said. “This new concept will treat Tier 2 unions as mere breeding farms for the rich 12 to pick and choose players from.”
Tuilapa says he is disappointed with the “lackadaisical attitude” of the All Black and Wallabies management as island players have contributed so much to the development of their game and is calling for major changes, including the easing of eligibility rules, gate-sharing of takings and setting up a Tribunal by law to adjudicate on contentious issues.
World Rugby has insisted no firm decisions have yet been made about the proposed world league competition with tomorrow’s Dublin meeting involving representatives from all tier-one nations, along with Fiji, Japan. However, the concept is in danger of collapse with the Six Nations organisation, also based in Dublin, being offered more than £500m by CVC for a 30 percent stake in the annual tournament reducing the financial need to take part in World Rugby’s new competition.
World Rugby have responded to Tuilaepa’s comments by making it clear promotion and relegation is part of the Championship structure allowing Tier 2 nations to rise up the ladder.