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The All Blacks' 92-7 thrashing of Tonga over the weekend is a point of concern for incoming New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson.
The former All Blacks midfielder was named as Steve Tew's successor as chief executive of NZR on Monday, two days after the reigning world champions dished out an 85-point hiding over their Pacific neighbours in Hamilton in their final World Cup warm-up test.
In his first press conference after being named as NZR's new boss, Robinson – who has served on World Rugby committees – spoke of how he believed the result was alarming and representative of how more needs to be done for Pacific rugby.
"I think we saw on Saturday that it is concerning for the international game to have fixtures like that when we know that Tonga had so much more to offer," he said.
Robinson stated that given how much the Pacific Island nations have given to rugby, tier two nations like Tonga, Samoa and Fiji need to be more competitive within the global game.
"How critical if World Rugby wants to be a truly global game, then we need all those Tier 2 teams to be as competitive as possible and to be able to grow other Tier 2 unions so that in time more teams can be competing at the World Cup."
He conceded that New Zealand needs to weigh up its standing with their Pacific rivals and determine the best way forward in bringing the likes of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji up to speed with tier one nations.
"The major things that seem to be affecting the unions in the Pacific at the moment relate to accessing the best of their talent and playing the best competitions possible. We can do better on both counts there. They will be conversations we will look to continue," Robinson said.
The Nations Championship, a potential global international competition coined by World Rugby earlier this year, would have acted as an obvious way of helping to give tier two nations more exposure to higher ranked sides.
However, the prospect of bringing the competition to fruition collapsed after it was met with resistance from northern hemisphere unions, and Robinson spoke of his disappointment of World Rugby's failure to get the competition across the line.
"Certainly in this part of the world we were huge supporters of that and we think that would have done an awful lot for Tier 2 competitions, our friends in the Pacific and other Tier 2 nations around the world as well."
His comments come a day after All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen lambasted World Rugby and the Six Nations for their roles in the Pacific's lack of development, which was glaringly obvious in his side's drubbing of the 'Ikale Tahi on Saturday.
Tonga, Samoa and Fiji will all be attending this month's World Cup in Japan, with Fiji the first to get underway against Australia in Sapporo on 21 September .
SOURCE: NZ HERALD/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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