30 May 2015

Sport: World Rugby asked to change policy to help Pacific

11:09 am on 30 May 2015

The Tonga Rugby Union says it cannot afford to compensate players for lost wages from their club teams, which is jeopardising their ability to select a full-strength team for the World Cup.

Pacific nations are battling to select some of their best players, who face significant drops in income from their club sides if they opt to turn out for their country in England later this year.

The Chair and President of the Tonga Rugby Union, Epeli Taione, says big unions like New Zealand, Australia and England can afford to pay compensation for the time their players are away from their clubs.

Tonga Rugby Chair Epeli Taione at a Rugby World Cup 2015 event.

Tonga Rugby Chair Epeli Taione at a Rugby World Cup 2015 event. Photo: Photosport

But he says their balance sheet cannot compete and funding from World Rugby is ring-fenced, preventing them from being able to do the same thing.

"What's been told to us that obviously in policies World Rugby won't support paying players wages or allowances and so-on. I think that they should look at the policies and make way for that because if not we're heading nowhere with it. We're just going to make the most of what we have and focus on what we're in control of, just fingers crossed that someone out there will change their mind and we will look at how things are done in the next cycle."

Epeli Taione says if Tonga had a full-strength team at the World Cup they could make it to the quarter or semi finals.

But until the situation changes he is resigned to the 'Ikale Tahi simply making up the numbers.