The following is a statement issued by Damian McGrath last night, in response to a number of damaging claims by the Samoa Rugby Union in relation to his sacking. It is published verbatim:
Despite numerous attempts to contact the Samoan Rugby Union (S.R.U) I have still had no official response as to the reasons for my dismissal from the post of Samoa 7’s Coach.
However, during that time, there have been no shortage of public comments to the media by S.R.U personnel giving differing reasons for my removal. Despite being requested to desist by my solicitor, the slurs on my professional reputation have continued.
These attempts to defame my character cannot go unchallenged. I feel I have no choice but to answer the points made. It is interesting to note that no other member of the coaching staff has undertaken any kind of review apart from me.
One of the main reasons given by the C.E.O and the Chairman of the Board were the findings of a review undertaken by an independent panel. The results of this review, which my legal team has in their possession, make for interesting reading.
The Review is very supportive of me as the Head Coach and after outlining their meticulous work they published their “Findings and Recommendations”.
I have copied them below.”
After having regard to all the available information the panel has come to the following findings:
1. Damian McGrath, Head Coach of Manu Samoa Sevens has satisfactorily met and in some cases exceeded the performance required of him under his contract with S.R.U
2. Damian McGrath has displayed that he is able to undertake the role of Head Coach of the Manu Samoa Sevens with skill, expertise and commitment and has assisted the S.R.U in progress towards achieving its strategic goal of ‘ Winning International Competitions’ particularly illustrated by the successful Cup winning performance in the Paris Sevens Tournament
3. That Manu Samoa Sevens are making clear and quantifiable progress towards the S.R.U’s overall goals for improvements in the International standing of its teams and the sevens have progressed from 10th in 2015 to 9thin 2016;
4. That the failure to qualify for the Olympics whilst disappointing for the team and the country, remains a future goal which money and better resources will make more viable.
Accordingly the Review Panel recommends:
1. That Damian McGrath continue his contract as Head Coach of the Manu Samoa Sevens and a further review be undertaken prior to the completion of his contract in August 2017
2. That the Head Coach recommend the appointment of the following positions for the 2016/17 sevens series:
• Assistant Coach
• Other staff
After discussion with the General Manager and the C.E.O (in respect of available resources) and also consider the need to encourage local counterparts for all positions;
3. That new KRA and KPI are agreed by the SRU and the Head Coach prior to the commencement of the 2016/2017 Sevens World Series
4. That the Head Coach be commended for the development of Manu Samoa Sevens Rugby to date and be encouraged to improve every aspect of its performance over the next twelve months.
This is only a small part of a comprehensive review that finds heavily in my favour. Despite this the review is being touted by S.R.U chairman Tuilepa as one of the main reasons for my dismissal, yet it states that I have “satisfactorily met and in some cases exceeded the performance required of me under my contract with S.R.U” and that I should be commended for the development of Manu Samoa 7’s.
Lack of results was another reason promoted as to why I was dismissed, yet improvements in results are easy to see. At Christmas 2015 we had the 12th best win/loss ratio on the circuit. By the end of the season we had the fourth best. Only Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand had better overall records. As stated in my review:
“Winning the Paris tournament. The Samoa team has not won a championship in the last 3 years and the victory in the Paris tournament is a significant advance in the panels view, particularly over the overall winner of the series, Fiji, in the final and South Africa in the semi final, who are the top teams in the series.
In addition to the victory over Fiji in the Paris tournament it is notable that Samoa had beaten Fiji 3 times over the series, which in the panels view, is a significant indication of the teams improvement. Further there were victories over South Africa, England, Argentina, New Zealand, USA and Kenya who are all teams in the top 8 which indicate that Samoa is a competitive side.”
Finally, the failure to qualify for Rio has been mentioned several times.
At no time was this a condition of my contract. The only time it is mentioned is in March 2016 when I was presented with a bonus structure with the last 3 legs and Olympic qualification included. I would at no time have accepted the job if such a condition had been included. To be given such a short lead in time, minimum resources and no strategic plan meant it was always going to be a tall order to qualify at such a late stage.
I would like to go on record to thank the wonderful players of the Manu 7’s squad who have sacrificed so much to represent their country with distinction.