Australia pledges more funds for rugby in Pacific diplomacy push

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia said it would spend an additional $14.2 million to boost Pacific Islands participation in rugby union, part of a diplomatic push in the region.

Australia will partner with Rugby Australia in a four-year programme to strengthen Pacific Island national rugby union teams, including support for training and women players as well as opportunities to host major events.

"Australia and Pacific Islands nations are family, with an enduring history and shared values, which is underscored by a love of rugby that brings us even closer together," Australia's Minister for Pacific, Pat Conroy, said in a statement on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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