WELLINGTON (AFP) – All Blacks hooker Dane Coles slammed World Rugby yesterday for failing to consult players or Pacific island teams about plans to revamp the international Test match schedule.
Coles said he was “angry” at the governing body for not listening to Pacific island nations and players as it drafted plans for a ‘Nations Championship’ competition.
“The thing that got me was excluding the Pacific nation teams because especially in the (Wellington) Hurricanes we’ve had a lot of guys play for Manu Samoa and Tonga,” said the 60-Test All Black ahead of the Super Rugby team’s clash with Otago Highlanders tonight.
“Those countries do a lot for world rugby, so them not being included in any plans was what made me angry.”
Reports last week said World Rugby was looking at a 12-nation competition which would not include Pacific island nations such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
World Rugby moved to clarify the plans this week, insisting there had always been a promotion-relegation element to the proposals which would give Pacific nations a pathway to the top tier.
But Coles remained unimpressed.
“Those Pacific nations deserve something, they deserve games and stuff like that,” he said.
“It’s a long way to go and a lot more planning. The players are trying to put their voice out there and get something going because you can’t just have these guys at World Rugby making these decisions and not having the players’ input.”
Super Rugby has also faced criticism for excluding Pacific nations, even though they are a major source of playing talent in the southern hemisphere.
A proposal for a Pacific islands Super Rugby team was scrapped late last year after organisers decided it was not commercially viable.
The All Blacks have also been slow to engage with their Pacific island neighbours, only ever playing one Test in Samoa in 2015.