O’Neill wants new tournament & transfer fees

ARU Chief Executive John O’Neill has revealed plans for a new Pacific Rim tournament and the advent of transfer fees.

O’Neill will attend an IRB meeting in Hong Kong on Sunday where the Tri-Nations champions v Six Nations clash will be proposed and the creation of an eight-team tournament for top Pacific, Asian, and American Test teams.

A big part of the meeting will be occupied by the current situation where end of year tours are filled with “meaningless” Tests.

O’Neill will also propose a Pacific Rim tournament which could take place when the British and Irish Lions tour in 2009 initially, as none of the home nations can tour in that June.

“With the British Lions, none of the home nations can tour. I have said what about we look at an eight-team regional tournament, in Australia, called the Pac-Rim championship: with Australia, Argentina, Japan, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, USA and Canada,” O’Neill told the Daily Telegraph.

“Two pools of four, with semi-finals and a final, all in three weeks.

“South Africa couldn’t participate, they’re hosting the Lions. And New Zealand may not want to participate with France inbound for two Tests and Italy for one which isn’t a bad practice run.

“I have just put the suggestion forward, where just like soccer, you have these continental championships. There’s Euro 2008 in soccer, and you have the same thing in Africa and Asia.

“We are not quite there yet as a sport, and it may be years before we get to their depth and breadth, but maybe this sort of Pac-Rim tournament could move us in that direction. While we are considering all other options, why wouldn’t you look at that?”

Japan, Canada, the USA would probably jump at the opportunity of another tournament.

“In the period that I’m talking about, in 2009 and the next one in 2013, the IRB could fund this instead of the Pacific Nations Cup (which features Australia ‘A’, NZ Maori, Japan, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga),” O’Neill continued.

“It’s probably taken longer than it should have to get to the inevitable conclusion that with all the other good competitions in rugby that provide a winner, (the June and November tests) currently have a flavour of a friendly.”

O’Neill will also push for the re-introduction of transfer fees, citing IRB regulation four, which covers compensation for player training and development.

This comes after O’Neill was involved in the row involving Jason Jones-Hughes who was poached by the then Wales coach Graham Henry despite having represented Australia A. The ARU claimed A$150,000 compensation at the time but IRB ruled it out.

O’Neill is hoping that transfer fees will raise the price of Southern Hemisphere players making them more expensive for the richer Northern Hemisphere clubs.

“It’s a matter of justice,” O’Neill said.

“When a country has genuinely developed and trained a player, it’s only right that it should receive compensation if that player moves to another jurisdiction. I’m in favour of the concept.”




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