Pacific Island Players Association speaks out over World Rugby's 'unfair' treatment of Samoa

The Pacific Island Players Association wants World Rugby to step up and give Samoa fair treatment.

The union doesn't know when its final World Cup qualifier will be, who it'll be against, or whether it'll be able to call on its top players, all because of a corruption and eligibility scandal in the European group.

Somehow a scuffle between Spain, Belgium and a Romanian referee has created a headache for Samoa.

Their World Cup qualifying pathway is now uncertain and, after a month, there's been anger that World Rugby hasn't fixed the issue at hand.

The problem revolves around European qualifying, at the heart of it – Romania.

It's topped the group, and in doing so has earned a World Cup spot. That's left Spain and Portugal in a second chance playoff match.

The winner is supposed to face Samoa next month for a place in Japan.

So what's the problem?

If Spain hadn't lost to Belgium, they would have qualified ahead of Romania.

Before the game they asked Rugby Europe to replace the Romanian referee because of a conflict of interest.

The head of Rugby Europe is, you guessed it, a Romanian, and the governing body promptly said "no".

World Rugby started investigating a month ago.

They have concerns over the refereeing appointments, while there's also multiple player eligibility breaches which should have seen Romania disqualified.

The Pacific Players Association's Seilala Mapusua, a former Samoa test representative, says it's a logistical nightmare because they're supposed to play next month.

He wonders if the review would have dragged on this long had it been a top-tier nation involved.

"What if this happened in an England game or a Wallabies game? What would the reaction be like," said Mapusua.

"It's really unfair to the players and the union."

World Rugby is considering replaying games, which could cost Samoa.

If the playoff is after June's test window, club's wouldn't have to release star players.

That's not good enough for Samoa.

"We can say, mate, this is your stuff up," says Hale T-Pole, also a member of the Pacific Players Association.

"For the players to be released from their club you have to cover their insurance, cover their salaries for the time they've been away."

It's a logistical nightmare they hope will be cleared up this week.