June 28, 2008, FoxSports:
AUSTRALIA is to venture into the heartland of South African rugby, Craven Week, in a bid to recruit the big, rawboned forwards it can't seem to produce itself.
Craven Week is the annual schoolboys tournament which showcases the emerging talent of the next generation of South African rugby.
... the expectation in Australian rugby is that as South Africa goes further down the transformation path, Springboks teams will become almost totally dominated by black players.
If that happens, there could well be a crop of highly talented Afrikaaner players who find themselves denied Springboks honours because they are white.
... identifying players who might want to follow in the footsteps of Dan Vickerman and Clyde Rathbone in playing for the Wallabies ...
"Down the track, if they're unsettled in South Africa and are thinking about making a move, then we might be able to help."
Good, but the same thing is happening here in rugby league and union.
NRL's island talent, March 27, 2008:
This anecdote can now be supported by hard cold statistics - one in four players in the NRL are of Pacific Island descent. That's right, no less than 100 NRL players come from Samoan, Tongan, Maori, Fijian or Cook Island backgrounds.Islanders in junior leagues, it's a really big issue, July 16, 2006:
And don't think the home-grown Warriors players have distorted the facts. Of the 15 Australian clubs, 22.5 per cent have Islander backgrounds (86 players) with 46 born in New Zealand or the Pacific.
And it is a trend more than likely growing. One in five players in the new national under-20 competition, the Toyota Cup, are also confirmed as Island boys by birth or parentage - not including the Warriors ...
The NSWRL Academy reports that 52 per cent of SG Ball (under-18s) and Harold Matthews (under-16s) players are of Pacific Island background.
"They are just made for rugby league,'' says Peter O'Sullivan, Sydney Roosters, and former Melbourne Storm, recruitment manager, who has been "adopting'' 16 and 17-year-olds from New Zealand for years ... O'Sullivan would visit New Zealand four to six times a year ...
But these days talent scouts don't need to travel far. Strong communities in Sydney's west particularly, and in southeast Queensland towns of Toowoomba and Ipswich, are producing explosive Pacific Island footballers who dominate under-age competitions and are ready-made for the NRL. Just look at state age teams.
The Parramatta junior league reports that 60 per cent of its players are of Pacific Island descent. Penrith have tracked the ethnic origin of all players this year but have not yet collated the figures.
NSWRL Academy coaching and development manager Martin Meredith says there are strong pockets of Pacific Island footballing families in Hurstville, the Manly area and South Sydney while Bulldogs juniors have extremely high percentage Arabic and Pacific Islander numbers ...
League's ethnic explosion has seen the NSWRL appoint its first development officer, Samoan David Lakisa, assigned purely to promote the game to the Pacific Island communities ...
The hot topic in junior football is the size of some of these early-matured boys and their intimidation of the "caucasian'' kids ...
FORGET new rules, expansion teams and codes of conduct - the biggest influence on Australia's rugby codes has been the influx of Pacific Islanders. Some even say that it's inevitable the NRL and senior rugby union will soon be dominated by players with Tongan, Samoan or Maori blood.Nah, no provisos, whites will just find a way to separate themselves from the diversity. Anyone for gaelic football?
This represents a fundamental shift in the way these century-old games have been played in Australia.
Rugby league and rugby union once attracted players with English, Irish and Aboriginal backgrounds. Later, they attracted players whose parents and grandparents came from Lebanon, Italy, Greece and Malta. Now Islanders with the perfect body shape for these power sports are beginning to dominate.
"The Islanders are emerging as a force because they generally have the qualities NRL talent scouts crave - size, speed and strength," says former rugby league international Mark Geyer, who coaches in the Penrith juniors. "It's like the NBA in the 1970s and '80s when African-Americans became the dominant players.
"People will have no choice but to accept it in league. The big thing is, these kids are Australians and I have no problem supporting them." ...
League and rugby have captivated the sons of the Islanders who migrated to Australia in the late 1980s and early '90s ...
Football has become their meal ticket and junior competitions throughout Sydney are crammed with players of Pacific islander background whose desire to succeed has been labelled as "confronting" ...
NSWRL statistics suggest Islanders are dominating the Jersey Flegg and SG Ball competitions, the stepping stones to an NRL career. Rugby administrators also appreciate what Islanders offer ...
The next stage of the "Polynesian-isation" of the two codes in Australia is how the predominantly white society accepts the inevitability of the game being dominated by players from a different culture. The players should be spared the racist taunts Olsen Filipaina allegedly suffered when he joined Balmain in 1980.
"There were very few Polynesians playing in the Winfield Cup and the way people treated me was unbelievable," he said recently. "When I was training, blokes would deliberately try to put me out of action during opposed sessions.
Racial sledging was on every week, too. I was called a black bastard, a nigger and had cans thrown at me. It ruined rugby league for me."
Marketing man Rob Horton, of Horton-Ella, says mainstream Australia will accept the two rugby codes accommodating more Islanders. But he warns there are provisos ...
Islander blood runs deep, March 15, 2007:
MEET Melbourne Storm's Polynesian connection. With Maori, Tongan and Samoan roots, the growing contingent makes up almost one-third of Storm's full-time squad -- and it's only going to get bigger.Polynesian Power Play, 15 June 2007:
Melbourne's recruitment chief Peter O'Sullivan said kids with Pacific Island heritage were dominating junior representative carnivals.
The trend has captured the attention of NRL clubs.
"I watched Balmain's (under-16 representative) Harold Matthews Cup team play a couple of weeks ago and there were two white kids in the team," O'Sullivan, the man responsible for recruiting Greg Inglis, said.
At the grassroots, big changes are occurring both here in Australia and in New Zealand.
One of these changes concerns players of Polynesian background, and their rapid emergence as a dominant element in both league and union, reflecting not only the professionalisation of the codes, but the societal changes on both sides of the Tasman.
So just how significant is the presence of Polynesian players in rugby?
Spiro Zavos is a rugby columnist for the Fairfax press, and the author of a just-published book of essays on the World Cup.
Spiro Zavos: In the 1980s I wrote an article in a New Zealand magazine called 'The Browning of the All-Blacks'. At that stage there was one Samoan origin player, Michael Jones, playing for the All Blacks, and I predicted by the year 2000, at least two-thirds of the team would be Maori or Islander, as it is. Recently I wrote an article about the browning of the Wallabies, and the same thing is happening with rugby as happened in New Zealand, and you can see it, the Wallabies are becoming a side which in say ten years time, most of the side will be of islander origin.
Islanders 'too big' for league, May 31, 2008:
CONCERNED rugby league officials are demanding an immediate switch to weight divisions - fearing the Polynesian player explosion is driving smaller players straight into the clutches of AFL ...France soccer team, 1959 v 2008:
"About 40 per cent of our players are Polynesian - over at Parramatta it's the same," Mr Feltis said.
"And if those numbers keep increasing we're going to have a problem where a lot of the smaller, white players are driven out of the game.
"Kids will leave rugby league for Australian Rules - a code that has warned it will spend $28 million in Sydney's west between now and 2011.
Who feels any identity with a team that looks like a foreign country? Not me. So long as the mantra of non-discrimination remains dominant, the colouring of sport will march on. Whites will need to start acting as whites in order to preserve their interests.
League is gone. Union is going. Cricket will be lost to Indians, Pakistanis and maybe Africans. AFL will be lost to Africans if they start playing the game. So come on over, white South Africans, but whites face the same struggle to preserve anything of our own identity no matter where we live.
See also: video of future Oz league and union teams.