SRU anxiously waiting for official word on World League

By Thomas Airey 02 March 2019, 12:00AM

Samoa Rugby Union chief executive officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i said reports of a new lucrative 12-team World League for international rugby have not been confirmed by World Rugby, but would present a huge challenge for the Union if true.

The New Zealand Herald reported on Thursday that the competition is set to be signed off as early as next month so it can commence in 2020.

With no promotion or relegation of teams beyond that 12, Samoa would be locked out of the top level of international rugby for at least the next 10 years.

Faleomavaega said they and the other Pacific Island unions haven’t been part of any of the  discussions, and are yet to be officially advised of the process or outcomes by World Rugby.

“We’re sitting anxiously waiting to see how it’s going to look for us.

“It all comes down now to what is in it for the Pacific Islands.”

He said the impact on SRU of the competition would be huge if it did go ahead, regardless of whether they can play in that competition or not.

“We acknowledge that World Rugby is intending to create a meaningful global competition, which could be good for the game.

“The commercial benefits in creating that competition and selling broadcast rights to hopefully increase the revenue to be distributed to develop the game around the world.”

However there is no guarantee Samoa would receive any of the revenue created by the World League, which the New Zealand Herald has reported will be backed by an unknown broadcaster that has already offered the 12 teams NZ$10-14 million per year.

Faleomavaega said a promotion/relegation system with a second division featuring the world’s remaining sides could be good.

The prospect of one of those Tier Two sides achieving promotion and the massive payday that comes with it, even for just one season, is one that excites Faleomavaega.

“That would be a game-changer for us.”

To add context, NZ$10 million (WST$17.7 million)is significantly more than the $11 million tala approximate annual budget SRU operates on every year.

“For Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, again it’s a missed opportunity,” said Faleomavaega.

“Our issue has always been to try and get into these big stage tournaments, so that we can gain experience up at that level.”

He said that spotlight also presents opportunities to access commercial revenue deals.

“It’s awfully difficult for us to gain an international sponsor.”

Faleomavaega said they have always tried to do their best to be competitive with minimal financial resources.

“The one thing that separates us, that we’re confident in is we have the resources in players.

“With a bit more resources in terms of money that comes in, we can be very competitive, and we’ve shown that before.”

He said being able to compete against the top rugby nations from more developed economies has always been the challenge since the sport went professional.

“It all comes back to earning more revenue, it’s a numbers game.

“That challenge will never go away until we are given a level playing field in terms of the opportunities for us to compete.”

By Thomas Airey 02 March 2019, 12:00AM

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