Samoa, Tonga and Fiji stars threaten Rugby World Cup boycott over 'World League' plans
Former Samoa lock forward Daniel Leo: "This will be Pacific Rugby Disaster 2.0."
Last Updated: 01/03/19 4:45pm
Senior players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are threatening to boycott the 2019 Rugby World Cup over plans for a new 'World League'.
The proposed move by World Rugby, which could exclude the three Pacific nations, would see the start of a 12-team competition from 2020, including the sides from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship as well as Japan and the USA.
Promotion and relegation has been mooted to hand tier-two nations like the Pacific Islands and Georgia the chance to step up, but the competition could also be ring-fenced for 12 years at a time.
Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) is discussing and debating a motion proposed by a group of senior Test players that members make themselves unavailable for this summer's tournament in Japan and says the call for a boycott is a "legitimate player protest".
Former Samoa lock forward Daniel Leo, who heads the London-based PRPW, which represents Pacific Island-heritage players throughout the European leagues, said: "This is exactly what happened when they created Super Rugby and all of the subsequent years of expansion.
"Their watchword was: 'let's take their players but whatever happens, keep the islands out'. This will be Pacific Rugby Disaster 2.0."
Leading players Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton and Kieran Read all hit out at World Rugby's World League plans, criticising the blueprint for five-straight top-tier Test matches every November from a player-welfare standpoint.
World Rugby responded on Thursday, saying the manner in which concerns were raised is "surprising" given their regular engagement throughout the process.