Players’ union Pacific Rugby Players Welfare have confirmed they are in discussions with their 600-strong membership base over boycotting the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The move comes in response to the news that initial proposals developed by World Rugby for a 12-team World League would not involve any of the prominent Pacific island nations.
Despite Fiji, Tonga and Samoa all qualifying for this year’s World Cup, the Pacific trio would be cast off from the elite as part of a major revamp to the international calendar.
With reports suggesting the 12 nations included – Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams, plus USA and Japan – would all stand to earn between £5m-£8m, the PRPW vowed there was reason to hold a ‘legitimate player protest’ for the proposal which could come into effect in 2020.
A statement released by PRPW executive and former Samoa lock Dan Leo said: “This is 1995 and the creation of SANZAR all over again.
“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.
“We invite our National unions to join this collective effort to repel this proposal, before it is too late.”
Supporting members who ply their trade mainly in Europe’s top rugby leagues, the motion to potentially boycott the Rugby World Cup comes a little over 200 days from when Japan open the tournament with their Pool A match against Russia on 20 September.
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