International Rugby Players has called for more to be done to ensure Emerging Nations can compete at the highest level of the sport.
The global players’ body says that a range of measures need to be introduced to develop teams and bring about more competitive Rugby World Cup fixtures in the future.
Chief Executive Omar Hassanein believes developing pathway teams, like the ones in Super Rugby, is one of the keys.
“Fiji’s success at the World Cup can be traced to the investment in the Drua,”he explained.
“These players are immersed in a high-performance environment, facing top-quality Super Rugby teams every week and now we’re starting to see the results at an international level. It’s great because not only are they winning, but they’re one of the most exciting stories of the tournament.”
However, the scope to grow emerging nations extends well beyond this, with the international calendar being critical to successfully growing the sport.
International Rugby Players board member, Brian O’Driscoll said: “We have consistently promoted the need for more top-level competition to help strengthen developing teams and, off the back of recent results at the Rugby World Cup, we’re calling on Tier 1 nations to take a longer term approach to growing the sport.”
“Stronger emerging nations means a stronger game for all. This is only achieved through a meaningful fixture list that sees more matches against both emerging nations and top tier sides,” O’Driscoll added.
In addition to offering opportunity via pathway teams and meaningful fixture lists, the global players’ association also promotes that a greater level of professionalisation needs to be introduced for Emerging Nations.
Head of Player Welfare and High-Performance, Conrad Smith, said: “The recent eligibility rule changes have been beneficial, but along with positive moves like these, we also need ring-fenced player payments to ensure that players are fairly compensated for representing their country.”
“All of these issues, as well as minimum high-performance standards, personal development support for players and greater standardisation in player contracting have to be considered when discussing the future growth of the game.”
Join the Conversation
Enter your email address and be the first to know about our news and events around the world.