One can be forgiven for yawning at the latest round of talks about the Pacific islands being involved in Super Rugby. Not again. Surely. Another yawn. Hopefully they can prove us wrong.
While the concept is undoubtedly worth exploring, the logistical nightmares that have been there for years remain unresolved with virtually no solutions in sight. We’re talking about questions of funding, player eligibility, venues, issues of governance and a lot more.
These issues are very much there and it means that because no one has the answers to them, all this talk makes wonderful headlines but we can bet that nothing else substantial will come from it until somebody puts their money where their mouth is.
Of course rugby is more than just money. Unfortunately in this day and age of professional sport, you can talk all you want but without the necessary dollars, it sounds hollow and as flat as an empty gallon drum.
That said, we acknowledge with gratitude the officials – including our media colleagues all over the world – who continue to raise and advocate for the issue. We thank you. It’s definitely something worth fighting for because like you, we believe the missing piece of Super rugby is here in the Pacific.
We are talking about a team that is dynamic, diverse, entertaining, intelligent and can draw crowds with the flair they bring. Believe me, the potential is here.
But forgive us for being somewhat pessimistic. You see when the Pacific continues to be ignored, insulted, lied to while at the same time used as poaching grounds for the elites and the super powers, you tend to get a little cranky. And that’s what’s happening for many of us.
Our poor ears are sore from all these noises.
You see, every time the issue is raised, our hopes and aspirations are heightened.
But as old as Super Rugby is, from the days when it was the humble Super 10 to what it is now, we have been disappointed and let down time and time again about the issue of the Pacific being involved.
We have heard promises, there have been countless meetings and lots of monies spent of these meetings that have amounted to absolutely nothing. Zilch. That’s right we are talking about more than 20 years of hogwash talk.
Every four years when there is a Rugby World Cup, the issue is raised one way or another. Whenever a Pacific team, whether it’s Samoa, Tonga or Fiji, upsets a big country, someone somewhere on the globe will pen something that revives the conversation so that our hopes are raised again.
During the past week, we have seen a lot of talk about the Pacific and Super rugby yet again. The historical visit by the Crusaders and the Chiefs to Fiji has given a new lease of life to the issue so that today, there is renewed hope that somewhere somehow the Pacific islands will be granted the opportunity to field a team. What a wonderful idea. Who wouldn’t want that? But we are tired of talking.
We are sick of the lies. And we’re not just talking about Super rugby. The attitude of the powers that be towards rugby in this part of the world is absolutely questionable and the results speak for themselves. Once upon a time, Manu Samoa, the Flying Fijians and Ikale Tahi had teams that could compete with any of the so-called tier one nations. These days, that is hardly the case. The absence of a solid commitment to the Pacific in terms of funding is obvious and disgraceful.
Think of the last World Cup and how many millions were raised, thanks largely to entertaining efforts from some of the Pacific teams. How many of those millions came out this way? The answer would be shameful.
And that’s what it all boils down to. It’s about money; it’s about providing a pathway for Pacific teams to be able to compete. Without money, all this will continue to be a pipe dream.
Speaking of money, we accept that issues of accountability and transparency in the administration of the Pacific Island nations have held back the sport from developing. The fact of the matter is that Pacific Unions have not helped themselves. Take Samoa for example; there is a history of questionable decision making and accountability when it comes to monies and managing the sport. These are well documented. Folks, these issues need to be resolved first and foremost if we are to move forward.
Lastly, it’s an insult to suggest that Samoa, Fiji and Tonga should field a combined team for Super rugby.
Don’t get us wrong; there is logic in the concept. But each individual Union deserves an opportunity to compete for a spot in Super rugby. With core teams for Super rugby coming from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, why not pit teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga against the likes of the Sunwolves, Jaguares and the other new teams for that place?
It’s just an idea. But then don’t hold your breath. It might take another eternity. Yawn.
Have an awesome Tuesday Samoa, God bless!