IRB report slams Samoan complacency

09th Sep 2010, 08:57

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IRB funding is vital for the development of Samoan rugby

IRB funding is vital for the development of Samoan rugby

An International Rugby Board report has sharply criticised Samoa's high performance unit, urging "extremely urgent" changes the World Cup.

An International Rugby Board report has sharply criticised Samoa's high performance unit, urging "extremely urgent" changes before next year's World Cup in New Zealand.

The IRB report comes despite a successful year for Samoa, with the 15-a-side team winning the Pacific Nations Cup and the Sevens team clinching the World Series crown for the first time.

The IRB, which puts up to £400,000 (US$620,000) a year into the high performance unit, found it was plagued with confusion and managers did not appear to understand their responsibilities.

"A culture of complacency - even apathy - has evolved and is compromising the integrity of a programme that aspires to be world class," according to the confidential IRB report seen by an AFP correspondent.

Deficiencies include staff performances "not being consistently assessed, and on the rare occasion that they are, it is not being done to international standards.

"Furthermore, poor performance is not being scrutinised or assessed."

The IRB funds high performance units - designed to improve players, coaches and referees - in the Samoan Rugby Union and the unions of other developing nations. Larger rugby unions pay their own way.

Samoan rugby also came under fire for not implementing all the recommendations made in a similar review after the 2007 World Cup.

"Because the outcome of RWC matches has such a direct bearing on the external funding and support for the SRU [Samoan Rugby Union], any change required to improve the performance in the 2011 RWC must be regarded as both important and extremely urgent," the report said.

Samoan Chief Executive Peter Schuster admitted there were deficiencies, but said they were working to improve the unit and he was confident the union would not lose vital IRB support.

Schuster said they had asked for the report in search of improvement, adding that not all recommendations made after the 2007 World Cup had been undertaken because of "very limited resources."

"But, we've been working very hard to achieve," he added, pointing to the recent success of Samoan teams.

Schuster denied a local newspaper report that Samoa faced losing IRB funds if the team did not perform to expectations at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Such funds would not be cut or reduced "so long as you do your best, are seen to be doing your best," he said.

Samoa are grouped in Pool D at the World Cup with reigning champions South Africa, Fiji, Wales and Namibia.