Island teams seek answers to World Cup failure
THE next four years will determine the future of Pacific rugby following the disastrous exits of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga from the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Not only did the island teams fail to make the knock out rounds, they also missed out on automatic qualification for the next World Cup in Japan by not finishing third or higher in their respective pools.
The uncertainty over the 2019 qualifying route threatened to see one of the Pacific teams cut from the next World Cup. But an emergency meeting with World
Rugby officials averted what would have been a huge financial loss for the affected nation. The top two Pacific teams in next year’s Pacific Nations Cup will now qualify automatically for RWC 2019 while the third placed team will play in a repechage qualifier series.
Nevertheless, the poor results in England has forced island officials to start their post-World Cup reviews early. A week after returning home with just a solitary win over USA, Manu Samoa coach Stephen Betham fell on his sword and resigned.
“No excuses. We failed, simple as that,” he told media bluntly. A good showing in their final game against Scotland restored some pride for the Samoans, but the writing was on the wall for Betham after a string of failures dating back to 2013.
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