Leo reveals shocking SRU actions

Date published: November 20 2014

Samoa second-row Dan Leo has revealed that the SRU have failed to attend crucial meetings in the last week to resolve issues.

Samoa second-row Dan Leo has revealed that the SRU have failed to attend crucial meetings in the last week to resolve ongoing issues.

The London Irish lock is currently in the process with the Samoa squad of preparing to take on England at Twickenham this weekend.

Whatever happens on the pitch this Saturday, the ongoing saga off it has exposed the appalling lack of cooperation from the Samoan governing body, as their players are ignored.

The SRU were due to send representatives to two meetings over the last five days involving the Samoan players, World Rugby (the IRB) and the International Rugby Players Association, designed to address major concerns from the players over the SRU’s governance.

A first meeting was scheduled in Vannes for after Samoa’s win over Canada last weekend, with a second at the Lensbury Hotel in Twickenham, Samoa’s base, for Thursday.

World Rugby agreed to attend on the basis that the SRU would be represented. Without their participation however, there was no meeting to be had.

Their excuse? They confused the dates.

“We were notified about 24 hours ago that the SRU weren’t going to send any representatives for what was the second of two meetings, after not turning up to the first one either,” Leo told Planet Rugby.

“The excuse, in a personal email, was that they’d mixed up the dates of the meetings.

“In our eyes it’s stalling tactics. They’ve done this in the past where they just ride out the storm and their mentality is that no storm lasts forever, so they’re going to ground.”

The requests of the Samoan players, for greater financial transparency from the SRU, aren’t exactly excessive considering the amount of donated money that disappeared during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Leo senses there is real progress behind their drive for change, yet also knows that the SRU have been here before and escaped.

“There’s momentum behind this, but we need the SRU to come to the party. We want to talk about how we can move forward positively, but there’s no platform for us to move forward at all until we can get into some sort of dialogue with the SRU.

“At this stage, we’ve had none.

“There’s been positive meetings with the IRB and with the IRPA. We know how we want to move forward with this, but until they meet us we’re still at square one.

“We don’t know what the plan was, because we didn’t have any correspondence from them. About a week ago they told us we’d be hearing about who they would send to the meetings, and we didn’t hear from them again.”

Worryingly, no immediate meeting now seems possible with Samoa’s squad going their separate ways after this weekend’s Test in London.

“No other meeting is scheduled. The SRU have asked to meet after the tour, but everyone disbands after the England game on Saturday. Next week no one’s around, so we can’t have that meeting,” stated Leo.

“About 80 percent of the squad will have dispersed and Rob Nichol and Josh Blackie from the IRPA will be back in New Zealand, because they’re going back today.

“It’s all based around them being there as intermediaries because we can’t meet with the SRU by ourselves – we need the IRB and IRPA there. These meetings don’t just happen, they need to be planned well in advance.

“The SRU are quite happy with it dragging on for months, even years. This is what they’ve done in the past after 2011, when all this came up after the Rugby World Cup, and they survived. They don’t respond to anybody.

“In terms of where that leaves us as players, we don’t know. We didn’t want this to drag on into the All Blacks game or the next World Cup, but if it does, it does.”

Samoa, of course, actually have a Test match to prepare for. Running out at Twickenham is a huge honour for Leo and the squad, yet as he admits they will do well to have their heads screwed on after the farcical scenes off the field in recent weeks.

“We’re going to give our best performance that we can produce. The short-term goal is just to play well,” conceded Leo.

“Obviously where our minds are at the moment, it’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to try and put this aside for the game, although we want to have all these issues sorted before we get back together as a squad in June next year ahead of the All Blacks game.

“The way the SRU operate though, I’d be highly surprised if things are dealt with by then.”

by Ben Coles