The Chairman of Rugby League Samoa, Tagaloa Faafouina Su’a joined leaders of Rugby League in the Pacific in Auckland yesterday to agree the future direction of the international game in the region.
Chairmen and Chief Executives from Tonga, Fiji, PNG, Samoa, the Cook Islands, New Zealand together with senior NRL staff discussed a potential 2019/2020 calendar, incorporating what has previously been known as the Pacific Test.
This calendar would see all Pacific countries play each other regularly in meaningful match ups.
Following the meeting, the International Federation have been asked to undertake further feasibility work ahead of a formal decision later this year.
Player welfare and the standards in camp was discussed at length and the requirement for positive leadership from all nations to ensure the wellbeing of players taking part in Test Matches was underlined.
Tribute was paid to the NRL for their work in establishing the Pacific Tests and their vital role in the recent success of Pacific Island nations, which has brought the international to this exciting crossroads.
Tagaloa, Chairman of the Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation said it is time for nations to take a more pro-active role in the development of the international game.
“We are now in position for the Pacific nations to take an active role in creating our own future,” he said.
Stan Moheloa, Chairman of Tonga National Rugby League said: “It is great to see the international calendar coming together, we have been waiting for this for a very long time. It will allow us the certainty we need to build a commercial programme.”
Greg Peters, C.E.O. of New Zealand Rugby League said: “It was a productive and positive session, and I was encouraged by the collaborative approach everyone has taken. We have a proposal we can now take forward”
Frank Puletua, N.R.L. Senior Manager International Strategy and N.R.L. Awards said: “I am excited for the international game and we are at a pivotal point in the history of the game – especially in our region - to build on the momentum of the Pacific Tests and last years Rugby League World Cup.
“Since 2013 the N.R.L. has been instrumental in growing the competitiveness of the Pacific nations through the Pacific Tests and we are supportive of the RLIF’s intention to build on that momentum. 48% of our competition is made up of players of Pacific heritage, so this is fundamentally important to the sport of rugby league in our region moving forward.”
Mr. Nigel Wood, Chief Executive Officer of the Rugby League International Federation said: “it was very productive and encouraging meeting with all nations actively engaged. There was a high level of calibration and a shared vision, for the future of International Rugby League. The hard work starts now with continued consultation with all stakeholders to convert what are currently simply concepts and ideas into a fine reality for international rugby league.”