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Savea no World League fan


'Not a fan, plain and simple' - Ardie Savea weighs in on World League criticism

All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea has become the latest leading rugby figure to condemn World Rugby’s proposed World League competition.

It has been almost a week since the New Zealand Herald unveiled World Rugby’s plans to implement a global 12-team tournament which would have international sides compete against each other year-round on an annual basis.

The leaked plans have been met with a barrage of criticism from players, fans and media worldwide, with many unimpressed at the omission of leading tier two nations such as the Pacific nations – Fiji, Samoa and Tonga – and Georgia.

Speaking to Fairfax yesterday, Savea said he also was not a fan of the concept, with a lack of Pacific nations at the forefront of his concerns.

“I’ve just seen brief stuff on it, but, to be honest, not a fan. Plain and simple,” he said.

“Player workload and shunning our Pacific brothers is not for me personally.”

The 25-year-old flanker was also sceptical of the issues regarding player welfare that the tournament presented, with the current international calendar already making the workload for players difficult to manage.

“I’m struggling to sit out now with the restrictions we’ve got now.

“I’m not too sure, if I have to sit out more then so be it, but I’m struggling as it is not being able to play and having limited minutes, so I doubt I’ll be happy if the World League goes ahead.”

Savea missed the Hurricanes’ 38-22 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch two weeks ago due to the All Blacks’ resting policy enforced on New Zealand Super Rugby franchises.

The policy means leading All Blacks were not able to play more than 180 minutes within the first three fixtures of the Super Rugby season, while they have to sit out two matches throughout the season, excluding bye weeks, and cannot play more than five matches consecutively.

The implementation of the resting policy comes as the All Blacks selectors prepare to defend their World Cup title in Japan this year, but has been met with criticism from Super Rugby coaches, such as under-fire Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper, highlighting the difficult balancing act of player workloads already evident in the current rugby calendar.

The publication of details about the proposed World League has seen the tournament concept transcend into a PR disaster for World Rugby, with a boycott of this year’s World Cup by Fiji, Samoa and Tonga being suggested as a way of protesting their exclusion.

Such a heavy outburst of opposition to the competition’s format has led to many of the organisation’s top executives, such as CEO Brett Gosper and vice-chairman Augustin Pichot, since indicating their intentions of including countries like Fiji and Georgia as negotiations of the tournament’s structure continue.

“The two-division competition would provide more player opportunities and ensure financial stability for unions,” Gosper told AFP.

“Importantly, participation would be merit-based, based on rankings at an agreed time.

“Therefore, there is no question of closing out the Pacific Islands as we would be adding two more emerging unions to the top table whilst financing a second tier competition with all the benefits that would bring to the players.”

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'Not a fan, plain and simple' - Ardie Savea weighs in on World League criticism