The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare organisation has shown its concern over New Zealand Rugby’s ties with Moana Pasifika, a candidate for Super Rugby.

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There are plans for a Pasifika team to become a member of the expanded New Zealand Super Rugby from 2022, but PRPW is afraid the Auckland-based Moana could just be another New Zealand team in disguise.

A statement was released this Thursday: “While PRPW have been in consultation with a number of groups throughout the bidding process, we felt it was important we refrained from being solely involved or publicly supporting any one of the ‘Pasifika’ bids in order not to bias the selection process or give any one party a perceived upper hand when it came to the selection criteria and process.

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Sam Cane and Michael Hooper:

“We are therefore disappointed it has been brought to our attention that a number of parties including NZR board members and the NZRPA (New Zealand Rugby Players Association) may not have taken those same precautions, involving themselves heavily in both the formation of the Moana Pasifika group and the subsequent selection of Moana Pasifika as the preferred partner of NZR rugby – presenting what we feel is a clear conflict of interest.

“While we agree with the need for consultation with Players Associations in the formation of Pasifika proposals – particularly those whose mandate it is to represent Pacific players around the world and their best-interests (PRPW & Pacific Rugby Players being two of those), we feel the failure by NZR employees, board members and the NZRPA to disclose tahis conflict of interest, and duly step away from the process has muddied the waters and discredited both the credibility and trustworthiness of the entire NZR Super Rugby expansion process.

“Furthermore, the involvement of the NZRPA in the formation of Moana Pasifika leads us to question who this team is really set to benefit. PRPW’s stance has always been that a Pasifika team should be for the development and benefit of Pacific players, unions, national teams, and wider communities first and foremost.”

CEO of PRPW Dan Leo added to this and put the situation into perspective by giving a comparison to the Northern Hemisphere, saying “If the RPA [Rugby Players Association] were involved in setting up a team in the Premiership for Georgian Rugby, people would be asking questions…”

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As said in the statement, a Pasifika team should obviously be implemented in order to benefit the Pacific nations, so it is the PRPW’s job to ensure that happens.

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