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Fair Game: New podcast investigates exploitation of Pacific Nations in rugby

By Ned Lester
Waisea Nayacalevu. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

While the Pacific Islands contribute mightily to the landscape of international rugby, their own national sides have struggled to reach tier-one status and suffer from the financial inequality within the global game.


A new podcast aims to get to the bottom of what is holding Nations like Fiji, Tonga and Samoa back from their immense potential.

The six-part series comes from Radio New Zealand and is hosted by comedian James Nokise and former professional rugby player and journalist John Daniell. One of the six episodes will be hosted by sports journalist Talei Anderson and focus purely on the women’s game in the Pacific.

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The podcast’s trailer features snippets from a number of guests telling stories of racism within rugby, the foundations of economic imbalances and desires to keep Pacific Island teams handicapped.

“It’s not a fair game now,” one guest says. “Because it’s obvious, certainly the Island Nations haven’t got enough money.”

“Sometimes, they have to choose between representing their country or getting paid,” another explains.

Personal stories are told with emotions plain to hear in the guest’s voices. “The powers that be decided there was no place for Pasifika in Super Rugby, which at the time for me and a number of others was absolutely galling.”


“There is a real interest in protecting privilege and being able to continue to dominate and all of that is undergirded by histories of  racism.”

The show, subtitled Pacific Rugby Against the World, compares the success of Pasifika players within international programs and their contribution to the success enjoyed by tier-one nations compared to that of the Islands, using recent World Cup results as points of reference.

“Join us, as we talk to players and former players, coaches and officials, politicians, academics and journalists across the Pacific,” John Daniell says.


“We dig into the history of Pacific Island rugby, which has given so much to the game and got so little back.”

Two episodes are out currently on all usual podcast providers with two more episodes releasing each of the next two weeks.


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CJNeil 493 days ago

the money side im not sure how all that works but i know corruption is an issue in the islands but put all those aside .
1) Pacific teams need to play more internationals full stop these are the current most capped players across the three unions:
Nili Latu (54) TGA
Brian Lima (67) SAM
Nicky Little (71) FIJ
thats insane and considering all 3 players retired around the 2010s.
2) the pacific teams need play-makers (9,10,15) they always have centre wings loose forwards but those play-making positions they always are low on stock they need start pushing kids from a young age into those positions pull some of those talented 12s into fly half .

isaac 493 days ago

The pacific islands dontneed handouts...what they need is teams such as Ireland, france, England, wales, south Africa, wallabies and NZ to play matches in the islands so they can make their own money from gatetakings. If England can make $10m pounds from a test match against Fiji or Samoa, if the islands could make even $2m-$3m from a test match against against France, Ireland or England in Fiji wouls have a rippling effect on the game in the islands and imagine England, Ireland and South Africa or or wallabies, france and Wales (3tests) in june-july annually would bring the islands on equal footing with tier 1 nations

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