PRPW Calls For More #SeatsAtTheTable

The Pacific Islands are vastly under-represented on the World Rugby Council - rugby union's main decision-making hub - and now Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) is calling for change, through its #SeatsAtTheTable campaign.

It is our position that the core issues affecting Pacific Rugby players across the globe will never be addressed fairly so long as the Pacific nations continue to hold a disproportionate influence on the World Rugby Council.

While the presence of Pacific Islands heritage players increases World Cup upon World Cup, our influence at the sport's top table decreases.

Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have a share of two of the 48 votes on the World Rugby Council – those two votes are held by Rugby Oceania, which represents 12 countries, including New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand and Australia each already have three individual votes.

So Samoa, Tonga and Fiji boast just one per cent COMBINED influence on the World Rugby Council.

Canada, Georgia, Romania and the USA – countries that have NEVER reached a World Cup quarter-final – hold more than two per cent influence EACH.

Japan, with two votes, boasts 12 TIMES the influence of Samoa. Yet Samoa provides more than 10 TIMES the amount of professional players to the world game.

Italy, ranked 14th – five places lower than Fiji and two below Tonga – have 7.1 per cent influence on the World Rugby Council – 20 TIMES that of Fiji and Tonga.

South Africa and Argentina are the only Tier One nations yet to field a Pacific Islands player. Ireland have never fielded a Pacific Islands player at a World Cup, but have capped Connacht centre Bundee Aki.

Pacific Islands influence increases with each World Cup:

  • The number of Pacific Islands-qualified players representing nations outside Fiji, Samoa and Tonga has increased 153 per cent between 2003 and 2015.
  • 2003: 603 players in 20 teams, 108 of PI descent*, 17 representing four non-island nations: 17.9 per cent PI descent.
  • 2007: 624 players in 20 teams, 122 of PI descent, 26 representing five non-island nations: 19.5 per cent PI descent.
  • 2011: 617 players in 20 teams, 127 of PI descent, 37 representing seven non-island nations: 20.6 per cent PI descent.
  • 2015: 645 players in 20 teams, 138 of PI descent, 43 representing nine non-island nations. 21.4 per cent PI descent.

Yet, despite this growing influence on the world game:

  • The Unions of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have no direct representation on the World Rugby Council.
  • The Unions of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have no direct representation on the four standing committees of World Rugby Including the crucial Rugby Committee.
  • The Unions of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have no representation on World Rugby's five advisory committees, either direct or indirect.
  • The Unions of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga HAVE NEVER voted on the election of the chairman of either the IRB or World Rugby

* Pacific Islands descent determined by first or second generation, that is, the player, or one of their parents being born in the islands.

NewsMark Sowerby