World Rugby Council "incredible learning experience" - P.M. Tuilaepa

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has described Samoa’s first World Rugby Council meeting as an “incredible learning experience."

Tuilaepa, who is also the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.), is in Dublin, Ireland this week to attend the meeting.

It is the first time Samoa and Fiji have participated in the World Rugby Council meeting, joining the expanded Council of 51 members.

In a statement issued by World Rugby, Tuilaepa is quoted as saying that Samoa being on the Council was important.

“It is where decisions are made on the future of the sport and Samoa is very excited to be here,” he said.

“We've played an active role in participating in international rugby competitions across the world – from fifteens to sevens – despite being a very small country with a small player pool so for us to be here at this meeting, and to unite with World Rugby on their vision to grow the sport, is an incredible learning experience."

Samoa was accepted onto the Council in November 2018, having successfully achieved the required good governance criteria in line with World Rugby governance reform launched in November 2015.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said the Pacific Islands make an enormous contribution to the global game.

"This is an historic day for World Rugby and the Pacific Islands, and a reflection of the importance and success of the transformational governance reforms made by this organisation and the unions.

“The Pacific Islands are unique, immersed in rugby heritage, and I know that the unions will bring excellent insights and make strong contributions on Council.”

A key item on the agenda is World Rugby's Nations Championship concept, which would see two divisions  of 12 teams each compete for annual global rugby supremacy.

To date, the key sticking point in discussions around the concept has been promotion and relegation, with the BBC reporting that certain unions are keen on a period of ring-fencing in order to establish a vibrant and sustainable second tier.

Without promotion, Samoa could end up locked into the second division of the Championship without a pathway into the top tier.

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