Coach breaks silence

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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FORMER SEVENS HEAD COACH:  Damian McGrath.

FORMER SEVENS HEAD COACH: Damian McGrath. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

The Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U) has not had the courtesy to explain to Damian McGrath why he has been sacked.

Despite the Chairman and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi publically saying he was sacked for the team’s failure to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games, McGrath told the Weekend Observer he has heard nothing from them.

“It’s been frustrating listening to everything being said by members of the Board (S.R.U.),” McGrath said. 

“I can confirm that to this day, no one from the S.R.U. has officially told me why I was being dismissed.

“They just rang me and said they were going to re-advertise my job. I asked why and they said that’s for the Board to let me know and still no one has come forward and told me why. 

“It’s disappointing but that’s where I am at the moment.”

McGrath made the comments, breaking his silence since his abrupt sacking earlier last month.

During an interview with the Weekend Observer, McGrath said he couldn’t discuss the details nor respond to the allegations from the Union since the matter is now with the Court.

“Unfortunately I can’t comment on the situation with the S.R.U. because it’s a legal matter,” he said. “I would love to tell you what my thoughts are and where I stand. I am hoping that when this gets sorted out then everything will come out.” 

Last night though, McGrath sent the Samoa Observer a full statement, responding to the allegations (see story). 

So where to from here for McGrath?

“I have applied for the jobs in Fiji and Canada as previously been reported simply because I am looking for another job,” he said.

“I have a family to support and I need to move on with life. Disappointingly we have to leave beautiful Samoa next week.

“Today’s the day we’re trying to get our flight sorted and I have to go to N.P.F. and transfer out all those technicalities. We are looking to leave next week.”

Mc Grath said nothing has been confirmed job-wise. 

“The players (Sevens boys) asked me when we had a little get-together during the week what I was doing and I told them that Canada and Fiji were the jobs I was applying for.”

McGrath admits that the whole debacle is disappointing.

But he will always support the players he worked with during his short stint in Samoa.

“I think the Board has already decided on a new coach and they will be making an appointment this week,” he said. “I am disappointed because I love Samoa and I love the people. People such as yourselves have been so supportive and I know it’s a rugby mad country; everyone wants success but can’t see the bigger picture.

 

“Just like any Samoan, I wanted the success to put a smile on the country’s face. I think this group of players that are there are a building box for something that can be done in the future.

“I am disappointed that I can’t be there to be part of that but I hope and pray that God has a plan. I think he’s got a good plan to have the next person to take it forward then so be it.”

But nothing can bring back all that was sacrificed by McGrath to come to Samoa.

“I have a big family, it’s almost like a Samoan family; I have lots of brothers and sisters and I have left all the family home,” he said.

“I have three children who I left in England and are all grown up now. My wife gave up a very good job with Virgin Air there. My wife worked as a senior manager and she gave that up.

“You come away from home and you sacrifice all the stuff you are used to and family. I think it was a sacrifice worth giving as far as I am concerned.”

Although the whole situation is disappointing for the former coach, McGrath admits he would never trade his time in Samoa for anything.

“The one thing that both my wife and I are adamant about is that we wouldn’t have swapped the opportunity to come here and the year we’ve had for anything,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic experience. You know people talk about Samoa as being paradise; it truly is a beautiful place.

“I can see why so many Samoans book to come home to live their lives out here. Every person has been so friendly and helpful wherever I go. You know they always say nice things.

“I wouldn’t have swapped the opportunity to be here for anything.”

McGrath also said that his major highlight in Samoa was working with the new and young Sevens players.

“I think just working with players who want to learn has been a massive highlight,” he said. “The players sacrifice so much to be part of rugby in Samoa; to work with boys who want to get better and do it for the love of the country as opposed to how much money you’re being paid which is an unfortunate part of the rest of the world where money plays a big part of what goes on.”

McGrath said he would come back to Samoa – not as a coach.

“I do truly hope we get a chance to come back one day,” he said. “It’s the top of my list of places to be so I would love to come back. I am humbled by everybody’s support; it’s a very humbling experience.

“I am so proud of what we have achieved and I am proud that everyone feels we’ve done a good job. I know pride is a sin but for once, I think for once it’s nice for people to recognise how hard we’ve worked.

“I was about to put a message on Facebook to try to put into words how I was feeling and I don’t think it would do it justice.

“Love is a big word. I love Samoa, I love Samoans and I am so thankful. I wish I could express it.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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