Russell Marshall’s Column

RFU must do more to help rugby in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga

Our columnist  Russell Marshall says the New Zealand RFU ought now to lead a push to examine what can and should be done to assist Rugby more substantially in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Pacific countries not getting a fair deal from the code’s bosses

By Russell Marshall

The Rugby World Cup tournament is drawing to a close. Whatever happens, it seems that many of the touring supporters have gained positive impressions of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

One impression will be of the importance of not only Maori and Maori culture, but also Pacific Islands cultures, and the extent and importance of the Pacific Islander presence in this country. It may have also been a revelation to many New Zealanders.

There have been comments from both New Zealand and Australia about the financial requirements surrounding the running of the RWC.

At present the New Zealand RFU (and the taxpayer) apparently end up losing money while the International Rugby Board does quite nicely. It seems that at least some of the current RWC practices will be reviewed. However, there are other, larger concerns. .

One matter which must be overdue for attention from both the IRB and the SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) body is the current treatment of Pacific Islands Rugby – Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in particular.

The latter two teams emphatically made their strength clear during the current tournament and Fiji has done so in the past. (A team made up of all those born in Samoa or of Samoan blood this year would have been formidable, with half a dozen of them from the current All Black squad alone.)

There has long been a justifiable feeling in the Pacific that they are hard done by. The New Zealand RFU ought now to lead a push to examine what can and should be done to assist Rugby more substantially in those three neighbouring countries.

Some in-country test matches, consideration of the inclusion of a Pacific Islands team in the Super competition, and allowing those with Pacific Islands blood to play for their Pacific teams at the end of All Black of Wallaby careers are three suggestions made in the past.

Finally, a local observation: By the time the New Zealand-Argentina quarter final concluded, seven of this year’s Hurricanes were on the field. Four or five of the backs will be there to the end. Four of those seven and late inclusion Hosea Gear will not be Hurricanes next year.

Sadly, it is by now obvious that the All Black coaches have been able to get better performances from our best players than either the current coach or his predecessor were able to do.