Great to grow game – Jamie George in favour of historic England tour to Samoa
Jamie George would welcome the opportunity for England to embark on an historical maiden tour of Samoa as part of a reshaped global calendar.
England clash with Seilala Mapusua’s underdogs in their final World Cup group game in Lille on Saturday in what will be only the ninth meeting between the rivals and their first since 2017.
Of the previous encounters, none of them have been staged in Samoa, while England’s total visits to the Pacific Islands consist of two Tests played in Fiji in 1988 and 1991.
The game’s powerbrokers are seeking to establish a two-division international competition operating in the July and November windows, with the summer offering scope to play in a region that is estimated to supply 20 per cent of all professional players across the world.
Fiji – England’s likely quarter-final opponents – and Portugal have captured imaginations at France 2023 and George appreciates the value of touring emerging nations to accelerate their development.
“World Cups highlight the incredible work the tier two nations are doing and their standard,” Saracens hooker George said.
“If you look at some of the performances from the lower-seeded sides at the World Cup, if you get the opportunity to go over there then why not?
“If you can pair it up with a tour to New Zealand or Australia or wherever it might be, it would be great to grow the game out there.
“We know how passionate they are about their rugby over there. If the calendar works then absolutely, why not?”
George’s England team-mate Maro Itoje believes tier two nations – led by swashbuckling Portugal – have blossomed during this tournament.
“We’ve seen the general level of play of alleged tier two nations go through the roof in this World Cup and I think we’re starting to see the lines blur between tier one and tier two, which is brilliant,” Itoje said.
“I would love for us to have a conversation where there’s no such thing as tier two, or where tier two starts from countries ranked 20 and under. That would be a brilliant evolution of the game.
“I was speaking to some of the Chileans after our last game and they were saying that when they came here it was one of the first times they had played on soft grass.
“They said it was nice to do contact in France because the grass was soft. And it was green. Back in Chile it’s all tough and all hard.
“If we can get on top of the structural issues, it would be brilliant to see more nations like Chile reach the level of Argentina or beyond, or Portugal reach the level of teams in the Six Nations.”