16 Sep 2015

Sport: World Rugby defends its efforts in the Pacific

10:15 am on 16 September 2015

World Rugby has defended it's role in the Pacific, saying it's doing everything it can to ensure the Island countries are competitive on the global stage.

Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have talked up their chances of making the quarter finals at the World Cup but say their development is hindered by a lack of test matches against tier one countries and ongoing battles with foreign clubs for the release of their best players.

All three nations have also faced administrative issues in recent years.

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper says the governing body continues to put significant resources into improving rugby in the region.

"We're investing 16 million pounds over the last four years in the Pacific Islands to ensure that they're competitive, that the surroundings of their team structures are well done, that they've competed before they come here [to the World Cup], that [there are] high performance centres [and] specialist coaches in those islands, governance issues and help with governance in those unions and so on. We work with PIPA - which is the international rugby players association in that region - very closely. With the money that we have available we're working very hard to ensure that that part of the world is thriving in terms of its international rugby and that the players are well looked after".

Brett Gosper says they haven't received any cases of clubs preventing players from representing their countries at this World Cup but admits it can be difficult to detect.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper. Photo: PHOTOSPORT