Wellington - World Rugby pledged on Tuesday to examine a raft of issues that cash-strapped South Pacific unions complain is draining talented players from their ranks.
The governing body also reaffirmed its
commitment to sustaining rugby in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in the wake of
financial issues that have affected all three unions in recent years.
It said members of its high-powered rugby
committee had held "highly positive and constructive meetings with the
three unions" in the Fijian resort town of Nadi.
As a result, it said Argentine legend
Agustin Pichot had been appointed to review a number of issues and report back
One key area is the conduct of agents, who
Fijian coaches have long complained lure young players from the islands with
Pichot will also examine how rich club
academies handle Pacific talent and the player-release regulations that island
nations believe weaken their teams at major tournaments.
When Pacific players earn big money
overseas they come under pressure from their paymasters to put club ahead of
country, or to switch national allegiance.
In 2013 there were 272 players eligible for
Fiji, Tonga and Samoa who were playing overseas, but only 198 were actually
available as 74 had aligned themselves elsewhere.
World Rugby said the Nadi meeting agreed
support programmes for the South Pacific unions should be enhanced in the
It said it invested 26.8 million pounds in
the three unions between 2011 and 2015, as well as committing 4.0 million
pounds to high-performance and development programmes in 2016.
Pacific rugby has long been plagued by
In April, World Rugby had to step in with a rescue package for the Tonga Rugby Union after it was placed in receivership and could not afford to pay staff salaries.