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Rugby development broken in Pacific

Lack of pathways, infrastructure, facilities and opportunities are hindering the development and progress of rugby in the Pacific.

Pacific nations coaches have said this is the sad but true reality of what is affecting growth of the sport in the region.

The Pacific has known to produce exceptional rugby talents, and some of them have been called world class. While talent is unfathomed, development still has a long way to go.

Tonga’s head coach Toutai Kefu said there should be more attention paid to infrastructure and facilities.

“In Tonga the facilities and infrastructure are really poor and at a low level so that stops people from coming,” Kefu said.

According to Kefu, there needs to be better pathways put in place in Tonga to provide players the next step up.

There is a huge gap that exists between the overseas and local based players in terms of experience, body conditioning, game awareness and game knowledge.

Lack of pathways, infrastructure, facilities and opportunities are hindering the development and progress of rugby in the Pacific. Picture:- SUPPLIED by SAMOA OBSERVER

The development link between the national teams and the grass-roots level is broken, in a sense that the grass-root players have no way of making it, hence the need for focused assistance and opportunities.

“So what we need to do is really fix that first and then put in some really good pathways, putting under-age teams together and a real development program,” Kefu said.

In Tonga, he said they do not have that but are building towards it.

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Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua shared his concerns about the lack of opportunities for local based players.

“The inclusion of the Fijian Drua and the Moana Pasifika has helped our teams massively, as it has given our players a chance to play at top level,” Mapusua said.

However, the onus is on the regional rugby unions in ensuring that this pathway remains intact.

Each year Pacific nations fill in the talent drain left behind by players seizing better opportunities with established teams.

In most cases, these players are lost to other teams. In some instances, foreign clubs don’t allow players to return for internationals.

With better development pathways and infrastructure, this talent drain will not be felt. Rugby players remain one of the Pacific’s best exports and development will allow an abundance of talent even at a local level.

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