Samoa leaves Pacific Rugby Alliance

Samoa has split from the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance, likely spelling an end to the Pacific Islanders team which plays tests against top rugby nations.

 

The Samoan Rugby Union this week informed fellow Alliance members Fiji and Tonga of its intention to withdraw, saying the merged Pacific Island team had failed to produce financial benefits sought by member unions.

“We’ve already advised (PIRA) of that decision by Samoa,” Samoa Rugby Union chief executive Peter Schuster told the Samoa Observer newspaper.


“The original concept was basically to provide an opportunity (to play) every two years.


“There were two aims, to get revenue to help in the running of the activities of the unions (and) to provide players with the opportunity to play against tier one sides.


“But the International Rugby Board (IRB) changed the schedule for the Pacific Islands team to play every four years. Every four years won’t generate the revenue needed to run our rugby.”


Samoa said the Pacific Islanders concept was designed to increase the profile of Pacific rugby and attract sponsorship but that would be better achieved by teams played tests individually.


The Samoan Rugby Union also this week withdrew its expression of interest in fielding a team in an expanded Super 14 tournament.


Samoa was the only Pacific nation invited by Super 14 bosses SANZAR to bid for a place in the enlarged Super 15 competition but Schuster said the island nation did not have the financial resources or facilities to support a team at this stage.


“Unfortunately our stadium at Apia Park is not a full (international) rugby ground,” Schuster told the Observer.


“It doesn’t meet the width and length of a full international field.”


Schuster said a Super Rugby competition might eventually expand to 18 or 20 teams and Samoa would re-examine participation at that time.


It was also eager to discuss with Australia whether Samoan players might join a new franchise based there.


“From what I can gather it’s a choice between Melbourne, Gold Coast and western Sydney,” he said.


“They’re not sure yet whether it will be in Melbourne but we’ve already indicated … that we’d like to have a relationship with the new team.”

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