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Pacific players unite in outrage over 'World League' freeze out

By Josh Raisey
Tim Nanai Williams and Julian Savea in 2017

World Rugby’s new proposal of a 12-team World League has been met by a myriad of condemnation by players, fans and pundits.


Already, leading players such as Johnny Sexton, Owen Farrell and Kieran Read have lampooned the new proposal, claiming that player welfare has been ignored with an increased international calendar.

However, the biggest losers in this proposed system will be Tier Two nations, as teams like Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Georgia and Romania will miss out on this league, and will be frozen out for 10 years. In light of this, former and current Pacific Island players have taken to Twitter to show their vehement disapproval of the potential system, highlighting the neglect of these countries.

Fiji, perhaps have the most to be aggrieved about, as they currently sit in ninth in the world rankings (and were eighth), ahead of the USA, Japan and Italy, all of whom are part of the 12-team league.

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Former Bath, Gloucester and Samoa centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has been very vocal in the wake of the proposal, calling for the Pacific Islands to boycott the upcoming World Cup in protest.

Former Wasps, Perpignan and Samoa lock Dan Leo also took to Twitter to show his outrage, suggesting that it is no surprise that Pacific Island nations are being overlooked by World Rugby.

All Black Lima Sopoaga and former Fiji sevens captain Osea Kolinisau commented on Leo’s post, also showing their disapproval of this league.


Fijian sevens legend Waisale Serevi also joined in, underlining the contribution that Pacific Island nations have provided to world rugby over the years, and that they deserve a place. This is undeniable, as not only have those nations produced some of the leading players in the world currently, but it was only last Autumn that Fiji beat France, proving that they can compete with the best.

Fuimaono-Sapolu was also critical of fellow players in Tier One nations, who have not shown enough concern for Pacific ‘exclusion’, rather only looking out for themselves and their own welfare.


Meanwhile, Bath winger Cooper Vuna, who has represented both Australia and Tonga, alluded to the fact that the Tongan board have done nothing regarding this.

A raft of journalists have displayed their opprobrium for this concept, as well as many accounts on Twitter, which are indicative of the widespread criticism this project is receiving. ‘PacificRugbyWelfare’ commented how the earning potential in America is being made at the expense of the Pacific nations, something that was shared by Leo, Toulouse and Samoa prop Census Johnston and Clermont Auvergne and Fiji flanker Peceli Yato.


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