Samoa coach warns of bleak outlook without urgent change


Fukuoka (Japan) (AFP)

Samoa coach Steve Jackson warned of a bleak outlook for the Pacific side without a change of attitude at home and abroad, and a determination by World Rugby to act on the grievances of Tier Two nations.

Saturday's crushing 47-5 loss to Ireland ended another disappointing World Cup for Samoa whose players, like those of Pacific neighbours Fiji and Tonga, are scattered throughout the world.

It is 24 years since Samoa last qualified for the quarter-finals. Tonga have never made it out of pool play and Fiji in 2007 were the last Pacific team to reach the play-offs.

Jackson said World Rugby must do more to ensure a better deal for the Pacific nations if they are to be more competitive at the next World Cup in France in 2023.

"Hopefully, they'll look at what the next four years look like heading to France and what does the playing field look like, what are the Test matches ourselves and Tonga and Fiji going to get in the next four years," he said.

"You've got to make sure we're actually playing against the best teams in the world. To be able to compete with the best you've got to be playing the best, that develops world-class players."

The 10 sides which make up the Six Nations and Rugby Championship tournaments played up to 50 Tests each from the 2015 World Cup until they arrived in Japan.

The Pacific nations played a combined total of 18 in the same period, headed by eight matches for Fiji.

In the impoverished islands, players head overseas to earn money to support their families with many signing contracts which bind them to a club and don't give them time to play for their country.

Many players also end up playing for foreign national teams, either because of their family lineage or through residency rules.

- 'Everyone is poor' -

While Jackson also wants more assistance from World Rugby, he believes Samoa's rugby authorities also need to do more to impress upon young players that the island nation is worth playing for.

"We all know what goes on (with European clubs), there's no need to talk about eligibility and availability and all that stuff, we've got to look in our own backyard," he said.

"We've got to capture those players before they get picked up by other nations and make sure that they're playing for Samoa and get that taste of the jersey.

"The players are there, we all know that, with the various Pacific island players playing throughout all the other nations, there's plenty of good footballers there and we need to capture them early so they become Samoan players."

It's a plan that appeals to Newcastle prop Logovi'i Mulipola.

"It's pretty tough coming back home because everyone back home in Samoa, especially my family, is poor," he said.

"I would love to be part of building up rugby in Samoa, especially in my position. I know that in Samoa not a lot of people want to play prop and I would love to go back to Samoa and just work with trying to help the young props."