Manu Samoa and All Black legend, Frank Bunce, believes the globalisation of World Rugby may be partially to blame for the downfall of professional rugby in Samoa.
Having represented Samoa when rugby was still an amateur competition, Bunce believes the funding and salary disparity since developing into a professional sport may have a large role to play in the declining position of Manu Samoa on the world stage.
“I played when it was an amateur game and once it went professional it became very difficult for not just Samoa, but a lot of the other Pacific Islands,” Bunce told the Samoa Observer.
“The money in the game is elsewhere, it’s not in the islands."
“All the talent is down here, no doubt there’s a lot of talent, but they had to go elsewhere and that’s been unfortunate for the islands and rugby in the islands.”
Although Samoa has been affected by the lack of finances in recent years, Bunce references other Pacific Islands are also feeling the brunt of the global competition growing.
As rugby has historically thrived among Pacific Islands, there is no doubt it has an effect on team formation and overall positions.
Bunce stated that there is no simple solution to the issue facing professional sports developing in commercial environments.
Given the recent declarations from both Germany and Samoa Rugby Unions of funding difficulties, Bunce maintains that smaller nations should do all they can to overcome the ever present financial pressure to compete in professional rugby.
“That’s the unfortunate side to professional rugby. Not everybody can afford to keep up. Not everybody benefits. In fact, a lot of nations have suffered. It’s a struggle."
“On a bigger scale, you’re looking at provincial unions around the world and the lower tiered nations like Samoa and Germany and a lot of other smaller nations which may struggle.”
Bunce maintains that smaller nations should do all they can to overcome the ever present financial pressure to compete in professional rugby. He even suggests that Pacific nations explore new options to overcome the growing commercial factors facing world sport and rugby union.
“There was a revenue sharing model that the All Blacks were talking about that could be a way for the Islands to get a little bit more of a fair share.“
The international growth of rugby union cannot be separated from the commercial environments they must now operate within. With financial hardship facing formerly outstanding Pacific teams, Bunce hopes that things can improve for Samoa and world rugby in future.
“I think they should all be in a better position. Samoa should be in a better position. It’s really difficult and I can’t see a short term solution for that."
“It’s a representation of what’s not good about it. Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come.”