Rugby Australia reveals $14.2m Pacific program in partnership with the government

Rugby Australia reveals $14.2m Pacific program in partnership with the government

The Australian Government and Rugby Australia are combining to pump $14.2 million into Pacific rugby over the next four years in an announcement that is likely to raise some eyebrows in Melbourne.

As the cash strapped Rebels fight for a future in the Super Rugby Pacific beyond this season, RA released details of the new 'Australian-Pacific Rugby Union Partnership' on Tuesday.

Funded through the government's PacificAus Sports program, the partnership is designed to "create pathways to increase Pacific representation in elite rugby and strengthen Pacific national teams."

Fiji beat the Wallabies at last year's Rugby World Cup in a loss that led to a historic pool stage exit and the demise of coach Eddie Jones.

"Rugby Australia is proud to announce our new PacificAus Sports partnership with the Australian Government," RA chief executive Phil Waugh said.

"The Australian-Pacific Rugby Union Partnership will unite Australia and our Pacific family through rugby union and create new pathways for Pacific and Australian rugby players and staff to play, train, and develop together at the highest levels of our game.

"We have committed to working with World Rugby, Oceania Rugby, and our Pacific union partners to expand PacificAus Sports rugby opportunities across the region, particularly for emerging Pacific women's rugby players.

"The government's investment is a testament to the strength of rugby in our region. On behalf of Rugby Australia, I thank the Australian Government for supporting our game in Australia and the Pacific."

The release said that a new academy would provide Pacific rugby staff with access to elite Australian training and expertise - "strengthening the foundation of Pacific Island national teams."

A new team named 'Penina Pasifika' would also compete in the women's Super Rugby pre-season competition.

"Australia and Pacific Islands nations are family, with an enduring history and shared values, which is underscored by a love of rugby that brings us even closer together," said Pat Conroy, Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific.

"The Australian Government is proud to be furthering our partnership with Rugby Australia through PacificAus Sports to give Pacific rugby teams and athletes opportunities to compete at the highest levels in Australia. Crucially, this funding will support pathways for girls and women to shine on and off the field.

"In addition to enabling the success of the Fijian Drua and Penina Pasifika, this partnership has provided unique opportunities for engagement at community, national and regional levels, deepening our people-to-people links and our close regional ties."

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