Seilala Mapusua called into question the definition of 'homegrown'

Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua has questioned what a ‘homegrown’ player really means after stats showed his side have the fewest in their squad at the Rugby World Cup 2023.

Much is regularly made of players born outside the country they represent and those who have qualified on residency grounds. Additionally, World Rugby changed the eligibility laws to allow players to switch allegiance, after a three-year cooling down period, to a country where either they or a parent or grandparent were born which was designed in particular to benefit the Pacific Islanders.

Read more: Samoa Rugby World Cup squad

Samoa and Tonga in particular have seen several former All Blacks and Wallabies return to represent their country of origin having previously starred for one of the Anzac Tier One Test nations. For example, ex-New Zealand N0 10 Lima Sopoaga is in the Samoa squad having made his full debut in the narrow 17-13 defeat to Ireland in the final World Cup warm-up match.

A graph shared by Tier 2 Rugby on X, formerly Twitter, showed Samoa with 15% had the lowest percentage of ‘homegrown’ players at the Rugby World Cup which is due to kick-off on Friday night when hosts France take on New Zealand at the Stade de France.

While clearly plenty of Samoan players leave the island early to pursue rugby or are born overseas or move at a young age, Mapusua took issue with the implied criticism of his side lacking homegrown players.

The former London Irish centre wrote on social media: “You can grow up in another country and still be raised in a “Samoan home”. What does “Homegrown” mean?”

It is not the first time the issue has come to the fore with plenty of criticism for so-called project players, that are brought to a country with the aim of playing for them either due to lineage or to meet the residency requirements which used to be three years and is now five.

What do you think about ‘homegrown players’? Let us know on social media @rugbyworldmag or email us at

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