Fiji, Samoa and Tonga export masses of rugby talent but need more resource sharing and better domestic management
Behind sugar, rugby players are the second biggest export from Fiji. Combined with Samoa and Tonga they provide almost 20% of the world’s professional rugby players. Fiji are Olympic champions in sevens and just won the HSBC World Sevens Series again. Pacific Island players regularly sweep up the end-of-year awards in all the top leagues for player of the season and nearly every top try-scorer in those leagues is from the Pacific. So it’s a no-brainer, right? Slap what’s left of your recently remortgaged mortgage on a Fiji v Samoa World Cup final on 2 November? Maybe don’t do that. Their actual fortunes in this World Cup will be very different.
The average difference in scoreline of Tier 2 teams v Tier 1 teams, as well as the margin of their biggest defeats, has been coming down every World Cup since 2003. That trend may well come to a grinding halt in Japan.