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Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - England vs Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 18, 2017 Australia head coach Michael Cheika REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Autumn Internationals - England vs Australia
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - England vs Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 18, 2017 Australia head coach Michael Cheika REUTERS/Hannah McKay
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
New Zealand deploys ‘rugby diplomacy’ amid scrum with China over Pacific islands
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
New Zealand deploys ‘rugby diplomacy’ amid scrum with China over Pacific islands
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Championship - Australia Wallabies vs Argentina Pumas - Canberra, Australia - September 16, 2017. Australia's Israel Folau runs from Argentinian defence. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Rugby Union - Championship - Australia Wallabies vs Argentina Pumas
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Championship - Australia Wallabies vs Argentina Pumas - Canberra, Australia - September 16, 2017. Australia's Israel Folau runs from Argentinian defence. REUTERS/Jason Reed
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Australia Wallabies vs Barbarians - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia, October 28, 2017. Australia's Ned Hanigan tackles Quade Cooper of the Barbarians. REUTERS/David Gray
Rugby Union - Australia Wallabies vs Barbarians - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Australia Wallabies vs Barbarians - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia, October 28, 2017. Australia's Ned Hanigan tackles Quade Cooper of the Barbarians. REUTERS/David Gray
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - Scotland vs Australia - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - November 25, 2017 Australia's Will Genia in action REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Autumn Internationals - Scotland vs Australia
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - Scotland vs Australia - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - November 25, 2017 Australia's Will Genia in action REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Australia Press Conference - Wellington Grange Hotel, London - 12/10/15 Nick Phipps of Australia during the Press Conference Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic
Australia Press Conference
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Australia Press Conference - Wellington Grange Hotel, London - 12/10/15 Nick Phipps of Australia during the Press Conference Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic
FILE PHOTO: Britain Rugby Union - Australia Captain's Run - Twickenham Stadium - 7/10/16 Israel Folau of Australia during training Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
FILE PHOTO: Australia Captain's Run
FILE PHOTO: Britain Rugby Union - Australia Captain's Run - Twickenham Stadium - 7/10/16 Israel Folau of Australia during training Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia's Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney, Australia - 20/8/16Australia's fullback Israel Folau throws away his wrist tape before the end of the match. REUTERS/Jason Reed Picture Supplied by Action Images
Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia's Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney
Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia's Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney, Australia - 20/8/16Australia's fullback Israel Folau throws away his wrist tape before the end of the match. REUTERS/Jason Reed Picture Supplied by Action Images
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Israel Folou (L) fends off the challenge of England's Owen Farrell during their international rugby union test match at Twickenham in London, November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Folou fends off the challenge of England's Farrell during their international rugby union test match in London
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Israel Folou (L) fends off the challenge of England's Owen Farrell during their international rugby union test match at Twickenham in London, November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Australia vs Scotland - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia - June 17, 2017 - Australia's Israel Folau jumps to catch the ball and score a try above Scotland's Greig Tonks. REUTERS/David Gray
Rugby Union - Australia vs Scotland
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Australia vs Scotland - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia - June 17, 2017 - Australia's Israel Folau jumps to catch the ball and score a try above Scotland's Greig Tonks. REUTERS/David Gray
<p>Steaming scrum: The British & Irish Lions and Maori All Blacks engage during a match at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand, June 17, 2017.<br>All players in the Maori All Blacks must have a confirmed Maori whakapapa, or genealogy. The British & Irish Lions is a composite squad formed every year by players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, selected by the coach who oversees the tour. The squad tours every four years through one of the southern hemisphere’s big three rugby union nations: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Rotorua match was played in wet conditions and ended with a 10-32 win for the Lions. (Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SportsFile) </p>
Sports, second prize singles: Stephen McCarthy, Ireland

Steaming scrum: The British & Irish Lions and Maori All Blacks engage during a match at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand, June 17, 2017.
All players in the Maori All Blacks must have a confirmed Maori whakapapa, or genealogy. The British & Irish Lions is a composite squad formed every year by players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, selected by the coach who oversees the tour. The squad tours every four years through one of the southern hemisphere’s big three rugby union nations: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Rotorua match was played in wet conditions and ended with a 10-32 win for the Lions. (Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SportsFile)

Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia&#39;s Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney, Australia - 20/8/16Australia&#39;s fullback Israel Folau throws away his wrist tape before the end of the match. REUTERS/Jason Reed Picture Supplied by Action Images
Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia's Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney
Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia's Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney, Australia - 20/8/16Australia's fullback Israel Folau throws away his wrist tape before the end of the match. REUTERS/Jason Reed Picture Supplied by Action Images
Australia, Tonga and South Africa will play Tests against Wales in November, the Welsh Rugby Union has revealed.
Wales announce November international schedule
Australia, Tonga and South Africa will play Tests against Wales in November, the Welsh Rugby Union has revealed.
Australia&#39;s fullback Israel Folau. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Australia Rugby Union - Bledisloe Cup - Australia's Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks - Olympic Stadium, Sydney
Australia's fullback Israel Folau. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia (AFP Photo/Toshifumi KITAMURA)
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia (AFP Photo/Toshifumi KITAMURA)
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia
FILE PHOTO: Britain Rugby Union - England v Australia - 2016 Old Mutual Wealth Series - Twickenham Stadium, London, England - 3/12/16 England&#39;s Courtney Lawes in action with Australia&#39;s Israel Folau Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic
FILE PHOTO: England's Courtney Lawes in action with Australia's Israel Folau
FILE PHOTO: Britain Rugby Union - England v Australia - 2016 Old Mutual Wealth Series - Twickenham Stadium, London, England - 3/12/16 England's Courtney Lawes in action with Australia's Israel Folau Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic
FILE PHOTO: Britain Rugby Union - England v Australia - 2016 Old Mutual Wealth Series - Twickenham Stadium, London, England - 3/12/16 Australia&#39;s Israel Folau in action Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Israel Folau in action
FILE PHOTO: Britain Rugby Union - England v Australia - 2016 Old Mutual Wealth Series - Twickenham Stadium, London, England - 3/12/16 Australia's Israel Folau in action Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Rugby Union - Rugby Test - England v Australia&#39;s Wallabies - Brisbane, Australia - 11/06/16. Injured Wallaby David Pocock reacts in the second half. REUTERS/Jason O&#39;Brien
England v Australia Wallabies - Rugby Test
Rugby Union - Rugby Test - England v Australia's Wallabies - Brisbane, Australia - 11/06/16. Injured Wallaby David Pocock reacts in the second half. REUTERS/Jason O'Brien
FILE PHOTO: Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika prepares to speak to the media after naming a 39-man training squad for the three tests against England at the Australian Rugby Union headquarters in Sydney, Australia, May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Mulvenney
FILE PHOTO: Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika prepares to speak to the media after naming a 39-man training squad for the three tests against England at the Australian Rugby Union headquarters in Sydney, Australia
FILE PHOTO: Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika prepares to speak to the media after naming a 39-man training squad for the three tests against England at the Australian Rugby Union headquarters in Sydney, Australia, May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Mulvenney
Rugby Union - Australia Wallabies vs Barbarians - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia, October 28, 2017. Quade Cooper of the Barbarians talks with the team&#39;s head coach Alan Jones. REUTERS/David Gray
Rugby Union - Australia Wallabies vs Barbarians - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia
Rugby Union - Australia Wallabies vs Barbarians - Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia, October 28, 2017. Quade Cooper of the Barbarians talks with the team's head coach Alan Jones. REUTERS/David Gray
Rugby Union - HSBC Singapore Sevens - HSBC Sevens World Series - National Stadium, Singapore - 16/4/16 Japan&#39;s Teruya Goto (R) is chased by Australia&#39;s James Stannard as he runs through to score a try during the pool stage Action Images via Reuters / Jeremy Lee Livepic
HSBC Singapore Sevens - HSBC Sevens World Series
Rugby Union - HSBC Singapore Sevens - HSBC Sevens World Series - National Stadium, Singapore - 16/4/16 Japan's Teruya Goto (R) is chased by Australia's James Stannard as he runs through to score a try during the pool stage Action Images via Reuters / Jeremy Lee Livepic
Rugby Union - Rugby Test - England v Australia&#39;s Wallabies - Brisbane, Australia - 11/06/16. Injured Wallaby David Pocock reacts in the second half. REUTERS/Jason O&#39;Brien Picture Supplied by Action Images
England v Australia Wallabies - Rugby Test
Rugby Union - Rugby Test - England v Australia's Wallabies - Brisbane, Australia - 11/06/16. Injured Wallaby David Pocock reacts in the second half. REUTERS/Jason O'Brien Picture Supplied by Action Images

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