And maybe the sad decline of Fiji and, to a lesser extent, Tonga as rugby powerhouses is not surprising. The sides these countries put out in this World Cup are third or fourth teams at best, the top players having long ago relocated to countries who can offer attractive wage packets.
There are eight Islanders in the All Black squad, seven in Wallaby colours, seven more representing America, another three turn out for Japan, Samoan Manu Tuilagi is England’s hottest property and Toby Faletau is an important asset for Wales.
In all, there are 120 players at this World Cup, 20 per cent of the playing population were born on the islands, or who consider themselves Pacific Islanders. And all that rugby talent from a combined population of around a million. Get the pick of them back to their countries of origin and this match might have been the final of Rugby World Cup 2011 rather than the washout it was.
I know we\’re not supposed to talk about \”race\” as it\’s not a concept which really translates into humans, we\’re all the same species. Perhaps \”genetic origin\” or \”genetic prevalence\” is better?
But perhaps it is correct that whatever that gene mix is in those Pacific Islands is the one that is best for the unique demands of rugby? In the same way that West African is for sprinting (and definitively not for swimming), North and East African for long distance running?
Great upper body strength plus explosive acceleration?