8 May 2015

Sport: Players Assn says Rugby World Cup funding model needs rethink

11:25 am on 8 May 2015

The International Rugby Players Association says it's time for World Rugby to reassess the way it funds second tier nations, to ensure their best players can afford to take part in the World Cup.

Manu Samoa lock Daniel Leo told Planet Rugby this week that some Pacific Island players face losing up to 40 percent of their salary by opting to play in the global tournament.

He said players are being pressured to declare themselves unavailable for internationals or asked to take a pay cut if they continue.

Daniel Leo and Census Johnston playing for Manu Samoa at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Daniel Leo and Census Johnston playing for Manu Samoa at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Players Association Executive Director Rob Nichol says the reality is unless you're playing for a top tier nation like the All Blacks it is costing players in lost wages or contract opportunities to attend a World Cup.

The chief executive of the International Rugby Players Association, Rob Nichol.

The chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Players Association, Rob Nichol. Photo: Photosport

He says currently the likes of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga are unable to use money from World Rugby to pay player wages.

"I think it's time to relook at that distribution model and say, well actually, some of the commerical proceeds from Rugby World Cup need to be invested in insuring that we maintain the integrity of the tournament by allowing other countries, that don't have those revenue streams, some funds to be able to contract their players so that the clubs don't have to pay them to play for their country. The country itself can actually say well it's ok if you take a hit on your club contract [because] we actually have funds from Rugby World Cup that we can pay to ensure that you are not out of pocket".

Rob Nichol says it's bizarre that it will cost a group of players from 12-13 teams at the World Cup personally to play in a tournament that is generating in excess of 150 million pounds in profit.