Rugby Australia unveil mega money Pacific Program alongside the Australian Government

Dylan Coetzee
Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh in 2023.

Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh in 2023.

Rugby Australia (RA) have announced that, in partnership with the Australian Government, they will be investing AU$14.2 million in Pacific rugby over the next four years.

The funding comes from the government’s PacificAus Sports Program, which has the goal of strengthening Pacific representation in high-level rugby by creating new pathways to improve the Pacific national teams.

Interestingly, the news comes at a time when the Melbourne Rebels are struggling financially, with RA only committing to helping the side in 2024 and not beyond.

Expanding the game

Still, former Wallaby and now chief executive of RA, Phil Waugh, confirmed the news and underlined their commitment to expanding the game in the Pacific region.

“Rugby Australia is proud to announce our new PacificAus Sports partnership with the Australian Government,” 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.”

New team

Part of the new deal would include a new academy with access to world-class facilities as well as a new team named ‘Penina Pasifika’ that 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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