Pacific rugby gets a yellow card from IRB

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So we’ve reached the completion of yet another Northern Hemisphere Spring Tour, with the Southern Hemisphere Tri Nation teams having the measure of their Northern Hemisphere counterparts.

The two teams from the South Pacific, Fiji and Samoa who also toured the Northern Hemisphere, did admirably well against their European Six Nation opponents.

Fiji drew with Wales 16-16 and had a narrow defeat against Italy 24-16.

Samoa did not record a win on their tour. However, they did push Ireland 20-10, England 26-13 very hard with narrow defeats and were very unlucky to lose against Scotland 19-16, who only had beaten the Springboks in the previous week.

Both teams did remarkably well as they are not well resourced as the Tri Nation and the Six Nation teams.

The rugby from the South Sea nations seems to be improving and bodes well for the future in terms of competitiveness against the top tier rugby nations.

However, in the last week, Pacific rugby got dealt a severe blow from the IRB Council Meeting in Cardiff when the New Zealand Rugby Union proposal to offer players with “close and meaningful ties” to another country the chance to represent that nation at Test level after a stand-down period was dismissed.

The NZRU proposed regulation would allow players such as Joe Rokocoko or Sitiveni Siviatu the opportunity to play for the country of birth (Fiji) at the twilight of their careers if not selected by the All Blacks and fulfill a stand down period.

Many of the home nations were against the idea because they feared that Pacific Island sides Samoa, Fiji and Tonga would strengthen themselves before the next rugby World Cup.

NZRU bid was only supported by Australia and England. NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said that England were keen to help Pacific Island rugby.

“They saw the benefits of the Pacific Islands becoming more competitive” Tew said. England played their role around the council table. I couldn’t see half the table, but we got nowhere near the two-thirds majority we needed when there was a show of hands.

“Unfortunately that was resoundingly defeated. Almost everybody voted against. We didn’t get as much support as we did last time and I’m not sure if Fiji drawing with Wales last weekend helped the cause.

“That’s probably the end of that for a few years I’d say which is disappointing. We proposed a few variations to try and smooth it through, but there was not the support,” he said.

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