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As the countdown to England 2015 continues, World Rugby has announced details of the programme of support provided to tier two unions over the current four-year cycle.

With global participation and competitiveness at an all-time high and World Rugby committed to closing the performance gap, the global governing body has injected approximately £34 million for the period 2012-15 directly into the 10 Rugby World Cup 2015 participating tier two nations, to underwrite a package of programmes aimed at reducing the competition gap with the 10 tier one nations. In addition, World Rugby has indirectly invested a further £16m in Unions via high performance competitions to enhance the pathway to Rugby World Cup for teams.

With Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay and USA all arriving in England ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015, World Rugby’s funding and strategic initiatives have assisted them by supporting high performance structures, development programmes, player welfare initiatives and training and education.

Specifically, direct union high performance investment supports athlete, coach and match official programmes, including talent identification, development, welfare, sports science and sports medicine plus research and innovation; it supports the daily training environment and competition initiatives for academies and national teams; and it also supports leadership and excellence initiatives including programme management and governance, administration, human resources, player insurance and infrastructure.

In addition, World Rugby has helped source specialist technical coaching consultants for the Rugby World Cup participating tier two teams in targeted areas, including defence, skills, scrum, attack, medical, strength and conditioning programme / team management specialists. These appointments include Steve Borthwick (Japan), Phil Davies (Namibia) and Alama Ieremia (Samoa).

High performance competitions facilitated include the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, Nations Cup and Tbilisi Cup for national teams, the World Rugby Pacific Challenge and America’s Rugby Championship for national “A” teams, and the World Rugby U20 World Championship and U20 World Trophy for national junior teams. World Rugby also supports the participation of the tier two teams in June and November window test matches including matchups with tier one teams on annual European tours.

In 2011, World Rugby announced an overhaul of the Rugby World Cup daily match schedule to deliver equity of rest and preparation days for teams, which has been achieved within the England 2015 schedule.

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Rugby World Cup is the financial engine that drives the development and competitiveness of the global game and the continued commercial success of tournament has enabled World Rugby to invest a record £192 million in the sustainability and growth of the game worldwide between 2012 and 2015.

“This is particularly beneficial for our high performance tier two unions as it has enabled an unprecedented £50 million to be ring-fenced specifically for high performance initiatives in order that they can perform to their full potential at England 2015.”

In March this year, World Rugby funded and delivered a player development programme, in conjunction with the International Rugby Players Association (IRPA) for up and coming players from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Japan, Canada and Argentina.

Over the last 18 months World Rugby has worked specifically with the Pacific Islands to ensure that they arrive at the tournament in the best possible shape, whilst also identifying strategies for future development and sustainability, including the areas of talent retention and education projects for players and coaches.

World Rugby is in ongoing discussions regarding a player development project in collaboration with the three Pacific Island unions, PIPA and IRPA to implement a player development project based on the existing New Zealand model, tailored to the needs of Pacific Island players.