Lakapi Samoa has thrown its full support behind the reshaping of the annual Men’s 15s competition by World Rugby, despite players publicly addressing concerns about the new non-inclusive format, calling it ‘a stark reminder of the power imbalances that exists in World Rugby’.
In a statement released last week, Lakapi Samoa endorsed the new format, and say it will ‘secure a positive and sustainable future of international rugby for participating unions, providing a platform for accelerated growth.’
World Rugby have launched a 2-division global competition. One set to start in 2026, which sees the Six Nations sides, joined by the four Rugby Championship teams, inc Australia and NZ, plus two additional teams invited by SANZAAR, expected to be Fiji and Japan.
Samoa and Tonga, and all other nations hoping to join, will effectively be shut out of this global competition until promotion or relegation is introduced, announced to not be happening until 2030.
Instead, Samoa and Tonga will join Canada, Fiji, Japan and USA in the rebranded Pacific Nations Cup, set to launch next year. The last time all six featured was in 2019, and before that in 2015.
Lakapi Samoa CEO, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai believes the changes will lead to greater commercial opportunities and more international fixtures for the Manu Samoa XV.
“The certainty from World Rugby to greater commercial opportunities to gain and sustain our small Unions into the future is progressive and exciting.”
“Combined with the proposed new two-division global competition model from 2026 and cross-over fixtures, these changes will ensure greater number of matches in between and heading into Rugby World Cups,” confirms Lakapi Samoa CEO, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai.
Players have taken to social media to publicly express their concerns about the proposed 2-division global competition model, with Samoa’s own Lima Sopoaga heading the charge in a heartfelt Instagram post.
“This exclusion not only impacts our chances of improvement but also affects the young talents in our nations who aspire to be the next great rugby players,” writes Sopoaga.
“It sends a discouraging message that their dreams are not as important as those of larger nations. It’s a betrayal of the very essence of rugby, which should be about respect, inclusion, and fair play..
“We are not asking for charity. We are just asking for an equal chance to compete, to prove our worth on the field, and to deveop the sport in our nations.”
Despite that, Samoa Head Coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua is excited at the potential of the expanded Pacific Nations Cup.
Mapusua says it provides important high quality fixtures, certain to grow and develop Manu Samoa.”
Vaovasamanaia adds, “This means we will have more test matches and more time together as a team which we have lacked in the past. This new environment will enable us to keep growing and developing as we look towards Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia.”