Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary



  • So, this is out now on Amazon prime. Has anybody watched it yet? I haven't, but I the entire UK rugby community is talking about it.

    Sounds like it's pretty powerful. I'll certainly be looking for it this weekend.



  • No, I haven't seen it. Don't have amazon.

    Read a few articles, all of them repeating this stat (as a bit of a stats nerd, this drives me a little bit nuts).

    The island nations of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have a combined population of only 1.5 million but provide almost a quarter of all professional rugby players.

    NZ must supply 0% by the same maths if all, even Maori , can be attributed to an ancestor from elsewhere. England about 743%.

    Not the point of the movie though, I suppose.

    The 3 nations actually have a combined population of 1.2 million. So the extra 300k are the diaspora.



  • So, what were the causes and solutions as identified in the doco?

    From what I have read changes pushed are a 'homecoming' rule and revenue sharing of gates.



  • Right, I've just watched it. Here are my thoughts.

    Although I expect it be seriously eye opening for many people, I doubt it will be for many on this forum. Most of the main points are well known in NZ rugby circles and there is certainly nothing new that will bring any surprises. The huge outcry here about it, I think demonstrates just how much people here aren't really aware of the full facts. Basically, the 3 nations (Tonga, Fiji, Samoa) have very little cash, small crumbling infrastructure and huge political involvement. Dan does go to decent lengths to show this & does manage to scoop some fairly decent interviews - Samoa PM, Gosper probably the biggest. Gosper comes across really bad, and unwilling to be the leader of any real change in favour of these nations.

    The timing of release unfortunately for Dan is quite shit. Covid will bring about an every man for himself mentality, which is pretty much so most of the problem. However, full kudos to the man for making it & trying to do something about it. So would I recommend it? I think people that hold opinions on Island rugby should, yes. I doubt it will change many minds though.

    Final point. Stephen Jones makes a couple of appearances. Man, he is one seriously ugly looking creature. I took some odd satisfaction in that. Did make me smile though as one of the comments I read somewhere about what really got to him, was about children as young as 13 being attracted to schools in NZ. After watching it, you'll realise that it's pretty much so the only bit of negative press that NZ gets in it, and honestly ... is barely even part of the story line. Leopard, spots etc.



  • @Rapido said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    So, what were the causes and solutions as identified in the doco?

    From what I have read changes pushed are a 'homecoming' rule and revenue sharing of gates.

    Government corruption & lack of real support for change from the big unions are the overarching points. He manages to take on both points with the key people. Samoa PM (who off camera sounds horrific, but on camera made some fair points) & Gosper (comes across terrible - leader of an old boys club).

    Solutions? Gate revenue sharing is the obvious one. Dan also wants one-country, one vote ... but as Gosper says himself about that happening ... "not while I'm running the show" (or something like that). Comment does need context though as what he really means is that he cannot see the votes going through to agree to it at all.



  • @MajorRage said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    Comment does need context though as what he really means is that he cannot see the votes going through to agree to it at all.

    To change the voting system, you first need to change the voting system...



  • I wonder how far 'one country, one vote' PRW would be prepared to go?

    That the 100 odd members of WR get one each? Like Fifa.

    Because if those 80 other Tier 2s and TIer 3s suddenly get given a vote they will quickly vote away the privileges the 3 PI unions get compared to even other Tier 2s, let alone Tier3s.



  • @Rapido and be selling their votes for money



  • I've recently watched a documentary on Amazon, Oceans Apart. A look into the problems with Island rugby by Dan Leo. I'd welcome the views of anyone who has seen it.

    It seemed a bit disjointed to me and had, at first a scattergun approach but seemed to end up with a view that it was an extension of the colonial mindset that was the problem. Even going as far as to use the term slavery in regard to not allowing a step down from representing Tier 1 to Tier 2.

    Obviously a very complex issue with no simple fix but there is without doubt a deep level of unfairness.



  • @Catogrande Hi mate, this thread was opened for this . Take a look at above for my thoughts.



  • @MajorRage Thanks, not sure how I missed this 🙄



  • @Catogrande what were your thoughts on Gosper?



  • @MajorRage said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    @Catogrande what were your thoughts on Gosper?

    I thought his comment about the one country one vote issue "not while I'm here" will be dragged up time and again to prove a point about a lack of willingness whereas I think he meant that it would just take a long time. That aside though, I thought he came across as clueless and directionless. He really had no answers to any of Leo's points to the extent that you wondered if he really understood anything much at all.



  • @Catogrande Gosper comes across as the old boy at the head of the old boys club.

    Nothing is going to change in my view.



  • This is the current WR voting structure.

    51 votes, divided (unevenly) among 24 unions/ continental organisations.
    Tonga doesn't have a direct vote, it hasn't met the criteria (the governance part).

    WR Voting.JPG



  • @Rapido said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    This is the current WR voting structure.

    51 votes, divided (unevenly) among 24 unions/ continental organisations.
    Tonga doesn't have a direct vote, it hasn't met the criteria (the governance part).

    WR Voting.JPG

    in all honesty, that seems pretty fair.



  • I am in favour of 1 country , 1 vote.
    But I am also in favour of restricting that by certain criteria (as they currently do: Governance, performance, financial).

    Using the current 24 organisations with votes. I doubt that the 'homecoming' rule would get accepted.

    But what you would probably get would be a a larger World Cup qualifying system. Which would bring Tier 2s into more contact with Tier 1s. And, if, the TV Rights for qualifying were to be owned by WR it could be collected in a single pot and distributed. Maybe even enough to cover the loss of hosting tests in Apia or Nukualofa.

    So that would go some way to solving the revenue sharing, and the not playing away v T2 nations issues.



  • The use of the word 'almost slavery' in the documentary, I admit, gets my hackles up and makes me defensive.

    Use of the term neo-colonialism is probably pretty smart.

    Plenty of the current voting power is in countries who feel a bit of pressure from anything with a whiff of neo-colonialsim accusations about it. More chance of passing a 'homecoming' rule if the voting power of places like Georgia, Romania, Spain, Russia, Uruguay etc is also still weak.

    So more chance of passing with current uneven voting structure that with 1 country, 1 vote.



  • Italy should not get 3 votes.



  • On potential ‘homecoming’ rule. How do you guys feel about it?

    I am sort of no. Sort of yes.

    This rule, and variations of it, have been discussed several time on here. In general my impression is NZ fans, including probably majority on here, NZ media and the NZRU (Definitely, on record proposing this) are in favour. NZ mostly see Tier 2 rugby through the prism of Pacific Islands. Maybe most of the Anglosphere does actually.

    Current rule. If play test, ‘A’ or 7s. You are tied to that country for life – unless use Olympic 7’s loophole.

    I don’t think you should be tied for life by ‘A’ level rugby. Not that NZ have played it for over a decade. So not many examples, but Nick Williams, North Harbour No8, NZ born with Samoan ancestry, spent decade playing in Europe – would be example of guy blocked from playing for Samoa if he had wanted, by playing for Junior All Blacks.

    7s. I care little about the format, guys selected for this are often very young. I don’t mind if this doesn’t tie you to a country.

    Test level, I say no.

    Not sure what was proposed in documentary? But in past it has been pot forward that there is a caps threshold. So under 10 caps for example – then can switch later on.

    3 year stand down?

    In the documentary 2 NZ Pasifika players interviewed on the subject. Charles Piutau and Lima Sopoaga.

    They evoke very different emotions in me. I have no beef with Charles Piutau’s decision to leave NZ, disappointed he was so young, but he has his priorities. I was disappointed Hansen didn’t take to world cup on a principle, thank god Naholo wasn’t needed for a crunch game. Crazy risk.

    Lima Sopoaga I feel very let down by. NZ were lucky we didn’t have a first-five crisis. The timing of his move was awful, played the system a bit IMO (or incompetent contracting by the NZRU). Is half Samoan / half Cook Island. I admit I would resent it if he had a second international career after they way he treated the NZ system and fans.

    I think Piutau would/should be ruled out of a ‘homecoming’ criteria by playing too many caps. While I think Sopoaga would fit a likely homecoming criteria, despite ‘only’ being half Samoan and treating his first nation like crap. Bad examples to use to win me over. Should have interviewed someone like Lolagi Visinia .....



  • i think i am against it.

    it should be renamed the Pacific Islands rule, and it's basically to allow kiwis to have two test careers.

    I would be happy to remove the sevens and secondary teams qualifiers, but if you play a test that should lock you in.

    I am uneasy with a career progression of play a test for NZ, use that cap to pump up your price overseas. move to Europe, become inelligible for NZ, have a back-up career for another country.



  • @mariner4life said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    I am uneasy with a career progression of play a test for NZ, use that cap to pump up your price overseas. move to Europe, become inelligible for NZ, have a back-up career for another country.

    While there is an element of colonialism about it all, the way we talk about these Islander players sometimes gets me.

    In Australia we've picked a few guys who, from where I sit, probably didn't consider themselves to be Australian. Taqele Naiyarovoro and Eto Nabuli spring to mind, Isi Naisirani may be another. It doesn't sit too well with me, as they are better suited playing for their home country.

    But they weren't forced into the Wallaby jersey against their will. They opted to play and were handsomely rewarded for doing so. The two wingers have parlayed that into lucrative foreign deals.

    Portraying this all as the big bad 3N/6N countries and big bad World Rugby doesn't work with me. Yes there are ways we could improve the system but the reality is much more complex than Islands good, rest bad.

    JB from the Eggchasers pod touched on some of this in this article, which I think is a good read:



  • @barbarian Thanks Barbs, that article explained my concerns a lot better than I could.



  • @barbarian I take real exception to a couple of points in this column.

    Yet it is fair to point out that discrimination still exists. Australia’s highest-paid player was erased from the sport because he upset white liberal sensibilities. Maybe Leo is correct – the colonial mindset has not disappeared, it’s simply changed its clothes.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with discrimination. Nothing.

    There needs to be reforms and fairer distribution from the big unions, but trying to solve a problem that stems from money and power with more money and power is wrong-headed. If it was truly the case this was a money problem, World Rugby would have written a cheque long ago.

    This isn't a money problem? So the crumbling architecture, rugby HQ's of a room with two ageing laptops wasn't in the doc? In countries where supposedly 20% of GDP is from rugby? And Dan Leo mentioning probably 50 times about fairer share of gate takings?

    The loudest, most moralistic voices of the rugby commentariat make the horribly patronising and potentially racist assumption that because a nation is small or less prosperous then its politicians are somehow inferior. This could not be further from the truth. They might be self-interested, they might be corrupt and, in some cases, criminally so, but they are not incapable.

    Actually, most of the corrupt claims from ex-players. Who witnessed corruption / missing funds. Who flew in the back of the plane and slept in makeshift dorms in gyms, whilst their admins flew in the front and slept at the 4 seasons. I think corrupt politicians are inferior, yes.

    Apart from the above, I think the article is a dribbling mess of opinions, without any real structure or fact based conclusion. Surprised it's enjoyed and agreed with by so many.



  • @MajorRage Yeah the Folau thing was a total red herring. Though I thought many of the other points were valid. The crumbling infrastructure of island rugby could be restored at relatively little cost , didn’t the NZ Government redo the stadium in Samoa? The view that it’s not just a money issue holds water IMO, it’s very much how that money gets used is the problem. A viewpoint that what is the use of simply providing more cash if it gets abused and entrenches the existing poor governance.



  • @Catogrande Sure. But then how does that view correlate with the last quoted paragraph?

    They might be corrupt, but they are not incapable? So they shouldn't be sent more money, as it's likely it won't get used properly, but the politicians are not incapable?

    Personally, it comes across me that the author is trying to say something without saying it. And in places, even flatly denying what he's trying to say.



  • @MajorRage I took that paragraph to mean that is is incorrect to assume a less capable politician simply because they are islanders. That some of these guys are in fact consummate politicians(that’s an insult wrapped in a compliment if ever I heard one) and that it would be naive to think all that was needed would be a different person nominally in charge. You can argue morally inferior due to the levels of corruption but in this instance inferior would not mean incapable.

    In all this though you should be aware that I am arguing backed up by my intimate knowledge of island life, politics etc and further bolstered by significant research through watching one documentary and reading the musings of a bunch of Polish chicks on an Internet forum.



  • @Catogrande Of course. I'm no expert on the situation of course, but I would consider myself much better informed than many others that claims to be so. IT seems many people were surprised there has been corruption at the top of Island rugby. And some of these the most vocal about supporting them. I'm not sure how much you need to have your head in the sand to not know that, if rugby journalism is your entire life.

    I suspect you're right, but for me, anybody who writes that a politician maybe corrupt, but then not less capable, is way off kilter with any of my views.



  • @Rapido said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    7s. I care little about the format, guys selected for this are often very young. I don’t mind if this doesn’t tie you to a country.

    What are the olympics rules on changing country?



  • @MajorRage said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    @Catogrande Of course. I'm no expert on the situation of course, but I would consider myself much better informed than many others that claims to be so. IT seems many people were surprised there has been corruption at the top of Island rugby. And some of these the most vocal about supporting them. I'm not sure how much you need to have your head in the sand to not know that, if rugby journalism is your entire life.

    I suspect you're right, but for me, anybody who writes that a politician maybe corrupt, but then not less capable, is way off kilter with any of my views.

    That’s all I really need to take away from this post.



  • @Bones said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    @Rapido said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    7s. I care little about the format, guys selected for this are often very young. I don’t mind if this doesn’t tie you to a country.

    What are the olympics rules on changing country?

    The player must

    • be a national of the country he wants to represent at the Olympics (Reg 8.6)
    • have observed and be able to demonstrate a stand down period of at least three (3) years since the time the Player last represented his former Union (Reg 8.7.2)
    • the time the Player first plays for the second Union or country, play in an Olympic Event (Reg 8.7.2)
    • not represent the second Union in any other form of the Game until after he has participated in such Olympic Event (Reg 8.7.2)

    Reg 8.7.3: The Player’s new Union or Olympic Sevens Team must not have already qualified for the Olympic Games (in the same gender as the Player) as at the time of the Player’s intended first participation for the new Union or Olympic Sevens Team, as applicable (save in the case of a pre-qualified team of the host nation of the Olympic Games).

    Reg 8.12 Once the Player has represented the Union or Olympic Sevens Team of which he is a national, in an Olympic Event, he shall thereafter be tied to that Union (or an underlying Union of the Olympic Sevens Team) for all forms of the Game and in all events but shall only be eligible to participate in an International Match in such other forms of the Game in addition to seven-a-side if:

    (a) he participates as a Player in no less than half of the tournaments in a series of World Rugby or Regional Association Olympic qualification tournaments ...; and/or

    (b) he participates as a Player in at least half of the matches in a standalone World Rugby or Regional Association Olympic qualification tournament ...

    Those are the most important requirements. There are also notification requirements and World Rugby's Regulations Committee takes the final decision.

    https://www.world.rugby/handbook/regulations/reg-8/reg-8



  • @Stargazer ahh right, so not really a possible issue of players being "bought" for olympic purposes. Ta.



  • Haven't really thought it through, but a couple of things around legibility that to me make sense are: (a) a five-year qualification period, and (b) the ability to change after a three-year stand down, but only back to the country in which you were born. This latter measure would allow, say, Vaea Fifita to represent Tonga, but would not allow Kiwi-born "Samoans" like Sopoaga to have a late-career switch to Samoa. I would probably also scrap the grandparent rule, as it's produced some absolutely ridiculous outcomes.

    I'm not sure if this would solve the issue, because I'm not really sure what the issue is that is trying to be solved. To me, these just seem to be "fair" measures that, on the one hand, recognise that people move countries and become naturalised citizens of their new nations while, on the other hand, maintaining close connections to the country in which one was born (with the prospect that they may want to move back their one day to raise and family and continue to make a living).



  • @junior The thing I find potentially concerning about the proposal to allow switching from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is of unintended consequences, which I see as twofold. Firstly if any young guy knows he can always revert to say Samoa with little consequence it could see a flood of younger guys opting for a chance at a Tier 1. Secondly if much older guys, however good come back what does that do for the motivation of the younger guys who don’t then get a look in?

    Maybe I’m overthinking this but I just can’t see it not having ramifications.



  • So, the stat about "Money from rugby coming into the Islands is equal to 20 per cent of the Pacific Island GDP" is also crap.

    From the rugbpass JB article:

    Massy University in 2014 ....... total remittances then accounted for around 20 per cent of GDP but the majority came from normal jobs like nurses working in Australia, for example.

    Pretty insulting for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, doctors, bus drivers, teachers, scaffolders etc who remittance money either directly or via their churches to have that money claimed as rugby remittences.

    (although things get fuzzy when you have things like the symbiotic relationship of the Whanganui bee-keeper training and employing Heartland level rugby players for the local club and eventually provincial union)

    I understand the mis-representing of the 25% of pro rugby players are from the islands stat. PRW is a pan-pacific 'union' advocating for players with PI-ethnicity regardless of nation of origin. It makes their point more powerful and media will (have) lap that stat up unquestionably.

    I don't understand mis-representing rugby's size in proportion to the remittances economy though, apart from more dramatic film making.



  • @Bones said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    @Stargazer ahh right, so not really a possible issue of players being "bought" for olympic purposes. Ta.

    Not in Rugby, those are WR rules. Olympics rules are you have to be a citizen, thus Saudi basketball teams full of African Americans



  • The real ‘problem’ for Pacific Island rugby are three-fold:

    1. They are small economies, excluded from any profit-making annual tournaments, that could allow the unions to be attractive parts of a pro rugby player's career.

    2. That the English and French unions were asleep at the wheel in 1996 and professional club rugby was privatized. Now, we have pro clubs paying players too much, making structural losses, needing to play 30 games a year to not go under, playing domestic rugby through international windows. Actively in the market for good players who don’t play international rugby.

    3. In response to the financial pressure of European club rugby (point 2). The NZ and Australian union-controlled professional games has shrunk and engaged in protectionist policies to reserve places for national qualified players. This a funnel that genuine pacific products generally pass through before ending up in Europe, so they may spend 4, 5, … 8 years opting out of international rugby to meet contracting criteria. It is also obviously the path that NZ/Aus born or raised players pass through.

    The above isn’t a problem for Pacific Island rugby players individually, though. It is a goldmine.

    The solutions Dan Leo and PRW are advocating aren’t solutions that will fix the structural causes above. Fair enough, no way I’d expect Dan Leo to be able to solve the above.

    • ‘Homecoming’ rule may mitigate the loss of plyers early in their careers by passing through the NZ/Aus funnels. Whether they represent NZ or Aus or just spend 7 years making decisions that will keep them most employable within those structures. For this reason I am in favour of a limited ‘homecoming rule (7s and ‘A’ level).

    • Profit (Gate) sharing will barely scrape the sides compared to being in a profitable annual tournament. Revenue would be irregular. But better than nothing.

    • One country, one vote: I think Leo is mistaken if he thinks this will favour the Islands. Interests may be better served if power is in hands of countries with neo-colonial guilt. Maybe, impossible to prove. Well, it may favour them in some parts but it wouldn't favour them on the homescoming issue.



  • It is also important to acknowledge some of the advantages Pacific rugby players have.

    • Kolpak means Pacific Islanders can work in the EU more freely than for e.g. NZers or Asutralians can.
    • Even without kolpak. Work visa rules for sporting jobs. UK used to have rule where you are eligible for a vias if you have played 75% of your nations’ internationals in the previous 2 years. For PIs this is surpassed by kolpak rules. But with Brexit it means again a Kiwi with e.g. Samoan ancestry has a path that encourages him committing to Samoa for x years with a payoff in Europe the reward. Not an option an NZ Pakeha or Maori has.
    • Access to the NZ (and Australian) pathways.


  • @Catogrande said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    @junior The thing I find potentially concerning about the proposal to allow switching from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is of unintended consequences, which I see as twofold. Firstly if any young guy knows he can always revert to say Samoa with little consequence it could see a flood of younger guys opting for a chance at a Tier 1. Secondly if much older guys, however good come back what does that do for the motivation of the younger guys who don’t then get a look in?

    Maybe I’m overthinking this but I just can’t see it not having ramifications.

    That's the reason why someone like Billy Vunipola has said that he would not play for Tonga if the rules would change.

    https://www.ruck.co.uk/billy-vunipola-asked-if-hed-consider-playing-for-tonga-in-the-future/



  • @Catogrande said in Island Rugby - Dan Leo Documentary:

    @junior The thing I find potentially concerning about the proposal to allow switching from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is of unintended consequences, which I see as twofold. Firstly if any young guy knows he can always revert to say Samoa with little consequence it could see a flood of younger guys opting for a chance at a Tier 1. Secondly if much older guys, however good come back what does that do for the motivation of the younger guys who don’t then get a look in?

    Maybe I’m overthinking this but I just can’t see it not having ramifications.

    On this, I'm not sure it would make much difference.

    The Samoan team is made up of old men, who have passed through the NZ/Aus 'funnels' who don't declare for Samoa until late 20s when they move to Europe.

    Whether they are ex-ABs (if had 'homecoming') or just SR level players (as is case now) they are all starting careers late 20s, booting someone out, presumably 32 year olds.

    Tonga, reasonably similar, but not as old as Samoa last decade. NZ/Aus funnels have similar effect.

    Fiji. In different ball park. Way, way less impacted by NZ/Aus funnels. Genuine domestic producers of plenty of talent.

    Hard to tell. Genuine conveyor belt in the outside backs where it is doubtful that the 29 year old ex-AB or French wing would be better than the current 23 year old Fijian wing.

    But in positions in the forwards they are using good, but ancient pros in the French leagues. So a Naisarini or Nathan Hughes would be very valuable. But don't want to give even further encouragement to the Naisarinis and Hugheses to attempt T1 first and fall back on Fiji later.

    Clear as mud.

    Definitely benefit Samoa, less benefit to Fiji, maybe even detrimental.


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