Samoans want grievances to be heard

Date published: November 17 2014

Samoa’s senior internationals issued a public appeal to the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) to discuss player grievances.

Samoa’s senior internationals issued a public appeal to the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) to discuss player grievances as festering disharmony clouds the future of one of the world’s top teams.

Grievances which surfaced at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand remain unresolved, leading to players originally threatening to strike ahead of this weekend’s Test against England at Twickenham.

Although the strike was called off following the intervention of the International Rugby Board (IRB), the players say they want their concerns dealt with urgently “to ensure positive change for the benefit of Samoa rugby”.

The Samoa Observer said in an editorial that the grievances included an alleged lack of financial transparency within the SRU with players being expected to pay air fares, coaches being denied a free-rein on selection and team line-ups being announced on social media before players had been notified.

Samoa, the top performing Pacific island nation and twice World Cup quarter-finalists, have in recent years recorded wins against top-tier nations including Australia, Wales and Scotland.

Members of the Samoa team who beat Canada 23-13 last Saturday met with the IRB and the International Rugby Players Association (IRPA) over the weekend but the SRU chose not to be represented at the talks.

The players “are now asking the SRU to commit to meaningful communication and discussion on the issues with all parties”, the IRPA said in a statement Monday.

Mahonri Schwalger, who captained Samoa at the 2011 World Cup, was axed from the side a year later when he wrote a damning assessment of the management in a report to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

Following the weekend meeting, Samoa forward Daniel Leo said the players have had to “endure these ongoing issues for far too long.

“This is about us, the players deciding enough is enough, and seeking positive change and input for the benefit of Samoan rugby and the welfare of future players.”

Meanwhile, prime minister Tuilaepa called the issues “opinions of little kids” and suggested the cream of Samoan rugby pull out if they are not happy.

“If they don’t want to play then don’t come,” he said.

“There are many players here who are looking for an opportunity. We’re not forcing you. So submit your resignation and we’ll select new players.”