World Rugby injects $65 million to Pacific rugby
World Rugby expects to have given over $65 million tala in support to the Pacific Island unions during the 2019 Rugby World Cup cycle.
That figure includes direct and indirect support for a four-year high-performance programme from 2016-19 and is a 30 per cent increase on the previous World Cup cycle.
Peter Horne, World Rugby High Performance General Manager, said: "We have been working in partnership with the Pacific Islands over the last four years to tailor high performance programmes that meet their needs and are geared towards optimal preparation and performance in a Rugby World Cup context.
“With a comprehensive programme in place, we are confident that the Pacific Islands are in a great place heading into Japan 2019.
"World Rugby’s wider $65m commitment to the Pacific Islands in this four-year cycle includes supporting the high-performance pathway with initiatives such as the Pacific Combine, player and staff academies and the Fijian Drua.
"It is pleasing to see players who have graduated from these initiatives now selected for Rugby World Cup 2019."
The Pacific Combine is a week-long skills camp run by World Rugby, in association with the Fiji, Samoa and Tonga Rugby Unions, for the best players from the Pacific Challenge, played between the under-23 national ‘A’ sides played immediately beforehand.
Manu Samoa players that took part in 2018 and went on to earn professional contracts at home and abroad include Melani Matavao (Otago), Henry Stowers (Western Force) and Johnny Vaili (Manu Samoa 7s).
The $65 million figure also includes insurance cover for high-performance sides.
Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will all take part in the Pasifika Challenge II on Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland, one of the last chances to prepare for their Rugby World Cup campaigns which begin in September.