Samoa tournament for minnows a first step towards landing big fish of India, China

The rugby league world order has been shaken in the past few days – Sonny Bill Williams signed a record contract with Super League side Toronto Wolfpack, followed by a public holiday in Tonga to celebrate the team defeating Australia – but a potentially b

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has announced a World Nines tournament to be held next October in the capital, Apia, backed by Chinese money and played in a Beijing-funded stadium.

A Chinese team will compete in the three-day event, as well as an Indian team, two nations with little background in rugby union and none in league. Teams at the World Nines will play for the Confederation Cup, and it has been sanctioned by International Rugby League. It is open to both men's and women's teams.

Nines is seen as a perfect vehicle for countries with little history in the traditional 13-a-side game. A delegation from China signed several agreements with the Samoan government last month, including funding for the tournament, but the announcement was delayed until Friday’s ceremony at the historic Aggie Greys hotel in Apia.