SYDNEY // The Australian Rugby Union said on Wednesday it had pulled out of next year's Pacific Nations Cup due to cost constraints. Australia usually fields a team of fringe players called Australia A in the six-team regional competition, but the ARU said the current economic climate meant it would not in 2009. Australia A finished second in the past two years of the tournament, which also includes New Zealand Maori, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and Japan. "There are alternative playing options for fringe Wallabies currently under consideration," the ARU said.
New Zealand Maori won last year's tournament following a 21-18 win over Australia A. The Maori side finished with a 5-0 record and Australia A 4-1. The ARU also announced it would suspend the 2009 Australian Rugby Shield, a state round-robin tournament involving teams from Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales Country and Queensland Country. * Associated Press