Pacific players suggest World Cup boycott over league exclusion

The All Blacks are guaranteed a minimum of 13 tests from next year

The All Blacks are guaranteed a minimum of 13 tests from next year

Manu Tuilagi will be asked to vote on a proposal for Pacific Island players to boycott the World Cup in protest at the prospect of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga being frozen out of the new global league.

There will be no relegation or promotion involved, effectively omitting island nations such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga from participating for at least ten years.

This means that Six Nations sides will travel to the southern hemisphere in the summer to take on three different nations.

Leo says he is considering the next course of action in the fight against the big guns of World Rugby.

Leo's independent PRPW group has already joined forces with Pacific Rugby Players, the world's other Pacific players' group, over a possible World Cup boycott.

Sexton, the world player of the year, described the plans as "out of touch" while Farrell said the "proposal shows no signs of improving an already hard situation" regarding the strain on player welfare.

Initial reports suggested Fiji, along with Japan, would be included, but when the New Zealand Herald reported World Rugby's plans on Thursday, Fiji had been replaced by the United States.

England skipper Owen Farrell raised concerns over conflict between club and country, adding: "Players are definitely open to discussing a new global season, but what we develop has to work with the club game in order to reduce conflict, deal with player release issues and make sure [player] welfare is looked after".

"Pacific Rugby Players, which is the official players' association, are absolutely not making that threat".

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'We feel that that a 12-year deal is not workable, particularly when it presents no hope of advancement during that period.

"We will share more details when we are able to".

Nichol said the chairman and CEO of the worldwide players' body then met with top World Rugby officials in the middle of last week when it was conveyed that "things have moved quickly, and they were looking to finalise this proposal in mid-March".

"It will be interesting to see their approach in the coming weeks knowing the current proposal does not have the players' support".

Henry, who steered New Zealand to World Cup victory in 2011, was dismissive about the blueprint, which will reportedly involve 12 nations playing annually in a competition along the lines of football's UEFA Nations League.

"It is inappropriate to comment on specifics while wider stakeholder consultation is ongoing". However, it is important to note that some assumptions made in the statement regarding the proposed competition structure are inaccurate and that important matters such as playing load and emerging nation opportunities are at the heart of constructive dialogue on the overall concept.

NZR chief Steve Tew said no final decisions had been made and expressed frustration the latest version of the planned competition had leaked less than 24 hours after it was finalised.

A number of the game's leading players have voiced their concerns about the proposed competition, warning of serious "player welfare and integrity concerns". "In fact the first time this format was talked about was in 2007 in Woking after the World Cup when we had a conference and this model was put on the whiteboard".

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