Australia A out of Pacific Nations Cup
December 17, 2008
Timana Tahu, who gained full Wallaby caps this season, in action for Australia A during the 2008 Pacific Nations Cup match against New Zealand Maori © Getty Images
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has announced that an Australia A side will not be entered into next season's Pacific Nations Cup due to the cost of fielding a side.
Australia have in the past sent a developmental side to the tournament that also features New Zealand Maori, the winners last season ahead of Australia A, Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga. The competition was inaugurated by the IRB as a means of fostering top-level competition for Pacific sides, whilst also providing a tough test for emerging Wallaby and All Black talent.
"There are alternative playing options for fringe Wallabies currently under consideration," the ARU said in a statement.
The tournament began life as the Pacific Five Nations in 2006, a venture that the ARU decided not to field a side in. Australia A joined the tournament in time for its second season.
The current economic downturn has also caused the ARU to put-on-hold the 2009 Australian Rugby Shield, a competition involving club teams from Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, NSW Country and Queensland Country.
Despite these two damaging announcements, the ARU statement also highlighted the amount of money still available at grass-roots and elite level, saying, "[The ARU will]continue rolling out almost $8 million in allocations for grassroots development nationwide in 2009, on top of more than $17 million in Super 14 grants."