Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has made a very frank admission about the state of rugby in Samoa.
“We are bankrupt,” he told the Samoa Observer during an interview in his office yesterday evening.
“In other words we are insolvent. It means the Union cannot continue to pay off our debts with the banks. We also need money to pay the players so they can continue to play.”
Tuilaepa, who is the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.), was responding to queries put to him about a Radiothon scheduled by the Union today where they are pleading for financial help from members of the public.
Asked if it’s true the S.R.U. has no money to pay for the insurance of Manu Samoa players preparing for a test match against Scotland this Saturday and the salary of Head Coach, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, Tuilaepa said yes.
He also confirmed differences between the S.R.U. and World Rugby over the appointment of the Head Coach.
The Samoa Observer understands that Fuimaono was ranked seventh by the selection panel, which included a representative of the World Rugby.
The Union instead appointed him as opposed to the person recommended by the panel.
This has upset World Rugby.
Tuilaepa defended the decision.
“The panelists give their recommendations however the S.R.U. officials are intelligent people,” he said. “They consider the records provided by those recommended by the panelists."
“So the decision by the Union to appoint the current Head Coach was made because he holds a better record than of the seven candidates recommended by the panelists.”
Tuilaepa explained that there are certain issues with World Rugby.
“Their mentality (World Rugby) is that we are like a rubber stamp Union,” he said. “If they tell us to go to the beach, we do as we are told."
“If they want us to face east then we should get up and face east. That mentality is stupid.”
As for the financial assistance and the Radiothon, Tuilaepa said: “That is why the S.R.U. is looking at ways to get the bigger Union to allow for gate sharing."
“If that is an option, our first tour to England and upon return we will be able to cover our financial budget for two years."
“For example, one game in England, I’m not sure how much millions euros is received at the gates for entrance fees, and let’s say they make $30million; we get half of that which is $15millin euros that money will help with our annual budget for next three years.”
Tuilaepa also called on members of the public for support for today’s Radiothon.
“We don’t want to be depending on off island donors or the government alone,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Samoa Rugby Union announced they will be hosting a radiothon at the Samoa Tourism Authority Fale, to assist with financing of the Manu Samoa’s Northern Hemisphere Tour and preparation of for the Sevens team for the upcoming H.S.B.C. Sevens.
“Our efforts to finance our teams have been marred with shortage of funding, hence why we humbly seek your assistance."
“Any amount you wish to donate is greatly appreciated,” says the public announcement.
According to Tuilaepa timing is everything.
“In seeking sponsorships, sponsors are eager to donate if the teams are providing good results."
“If people are happy with the results, they will donate to the team, but if they are unhappy with the results for sure they will not give anything.”