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World Rugby fire back at Steve Hansen's criticism of treatment of Pacific teams

World Rugby is refuting claims made by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen that they aren't doing enough to help Pacific Island nations develop.

Hansen wasn't afraid to lay into World Rugby after his side beat Tonga 92-7 in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, detailing that the organisation's current scheduling hampers any plans, placing more emphasis on money ahead of competition.

"It would be [beneficial]," Hansen began.

"The problem we've got is the calendar doesn't allow you to do that. We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game, but we don't have an organisation at the top that wants to say 'this is what we're doing.'

World Rugby released a statement to Australia's Daily Telegraph in response to Hansen's comments, claiming they'd pumped "a record NZ$115 million support package for the teams outside of the Six Nations and SANZAAR to compete at Rugby World Cup 2019".

"One hundred and twenty of the 150 coaches and support staff involved in these teams have been identified and funded by World Rugby, while the Americas and Pacific combines and Fijian Drua are ensuring an environment that enables these unions to retain and develop their best young local talent and many of these players will feature at Japan 2019."

World Rugby currently contributes NZ$480,000 each year to support the Fijian Drua who compete in Australia's National Rugby Championship.

They also fund the salaries for multiple coaches of tier two nations such as John McKee (Fiji), Kingsley Jones (Canada) and Phil Davies (Namibia).

World Rugby's response however did not address two concerns raised by Hansen - the number of Tests Pacific Island teams get against tier one opponents and the influence the Six Nations unions have on the game.

"The Six Nations are world Test rugby programmes, they don't want to give that up. Until they're prepared to give that up, we're not going to see any progress in that area."

The comments come after departing NZR chief executive Steve Tew told TVNZ's Sunday the European unions stopped Pacific players from being able to represent multiple nations.

"It was a wee while ago now," Tew began.

"That was to allow players that had played for tier one countries, that had a close and legitimate link to a tier two nation to be able to play for that country. We fought pretty hard for that, but didn't get it across the line.

"The Six Nations countries are reasonably against that, which is ironic because they're not slow to adopt players with [eligible] grandparents themselves."

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The All Blacks coach lamented his side's few opportunities against the island nations. Source: 1 NEWS


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