Rich nation, poor nation mars weekend 'tests'

THE thorny issue of the rugby rich and poor raises its head again following last week's internationals, when the big boys of the Tri Nations had training runs against Fiji, Samoa and Uruguay.

It's more than a shame to see proud rugby nations like the Fijians and Manu Samoa, who have given the game so much, have their talent bled dry to such an extent that they are cannon fodder for the Wallabies and All Blacks.

In my view it's more than a shame, it's a disgrace that reflects poorly on the powerful nations.

I agree with Wallaby coach Eddie Jones that something must be done about this situation, but unlike Eddie, I don't think we can pass the buck to the IRB.

Australia and New Zealand must take responsibility.

I find it a little patronising to publicly empathise with their plight, but the All Blacks and Wallabies continue to stack national sides with the Caucaubunas, Sivivatus, and Radike Samos to name a few.

The issue is complex and raises as many socio-economic issues as rugby ones.

However, a solution must be found, and found soon.

The Fijian Rugby Union runs at a loss and is virtually bankrupt. Samoa played just their second test since the last World Cup.

The mooted South Pacific competition featuring the Island Nations and Super 14s teams is a minimum, but really, the Islanders should be in the Super 14s.

If the IRB won't fund it, Australia and New Zealand should. The IRB should force the fat cat English clubs to release players for internationals.

Time is short.

Whilst holidaying in Fiji recently, I read in the local paper a notice for players for the national championships, telling them where the bus would pick them up and to remember to bring their boots.

It's a far cry from Camp Wallaby.

If we don't move soon, these great rugby nations will be lost forever and Australia and New Zealand can share the dubious credit.

Congratulations to a couple of first up winners last week.

The Buccaneers, well done, it's been a while coming but very deserved. Their challenge is to back up.

And to an undersized but plucky Grafton Under-13s, a great 20-15 win over Casino with second rower Ben Aitkin a standout, well backed by Matt Burke, Martin Gorrie and Nathan O'Neill.

They tell me the song could be heard over all of South Grafton.

THE local rugby show continues, with three tight games.

University should prevail over Wollongbar at Wollongbar, while Lismore should win at home against Ballina.

Grafton versus Yamba is the match of the day.

In a slightly bizarre twist, these two sides, along with Casino, being the form sides of the competition with the deceptively last placed Yamba looking to make it three positive results in a row while the Redmen have won four of their last five.

Should be another great local derby with Grafton's forward power up against Yamba's free running game.

A tough one to pick but the Redmen at home look to have an edge.

THE annual Ruck'n'Ball is on Saturday night at the GDSC Bowling Club, with pre-sold tickets only available and selling fast.

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