Clubs 'will pay players not to go to 2015 World Cup'
The 2015 Rugby World Cup in England risks being devalued by European clubs preventing players from Fiji and other Pacific nations from representing their countries.
That is the stark warning from a leading players' representative following new claims that the integrity of previous tournaments, notably the 2011 event in New Zealand, was compromised by the participation of weakened teams.
England – who play Fiji on Saturday – are preparing to host the World Cup for the first time since 1991 and, with it once again overlapping the European domestic season, the practice among some clubs of offering financial incentives to Pacific Islanders to ignore their countries' call could mean Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are deprived of key players in rugby's global showpiece. Nicky Little, above, the former Fiji fly-half who has played club rugby in five European countries, describes the practice as "blackmail". A former coach of French club Racing Métro has claimed three Fijian players were offered financial inducements not to take part in the last World Cup. MORE
Lancaster forced to reshuffle squad
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Strachan favourite for Scotland role
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Clattenburg off referee list again
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Murray outlasts Berdych in opener
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Compton makes his play for Test berth
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Hawk steps in to challenge Cleverly
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Roberto Mancini's pitiful record in Europe is bad enough but just as damaging is that almost every time he speaks he gives us an insight into the likely reasons why it is quite so dire. MORE