Despite efforts by the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) and their Chairman, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to justify the sacking of former Sevens Head Coach, Damian McGrath, many people have still taken the side of the coach.
During an earlier interview with the Prime Minister, he said that the reason McGrath was given the boot was simply because he failed the Union.
“The ultimate goal for the coach was to secure a spot in the (Rio 2016) Olympics and that did not happen so the Board thought his work was of no use anymore,” Tuilaepa said.
“Once they do not achieve the goals set for them, the axe falls on them.”
Both the C.E.O Samoa Rugby Union Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai and the Chairman of the Board Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi had said that the findings of a review undertaken by an independent panel were the main reason for sacking McGrath.
However the publication in the Saturday Observer of those Findings and Recommendations by the Panel tell a very different story.
Key points include:
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.
And under Recommendations:
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.
In the meantime, according to circulating comments on Social Media, the people of Samoa prefer to believe the Panel and their review of McGrath and the record of the coach himself rather than explanations from the S.R.U.
According to one comment, the fault of Samoa Rugby’s downfall lies in the hands of the Union.
“I think the S.R.U. are egotistical wannabes who have no decent caring bone in their bodies who obviously don't portray Samoa's secular positioning!” he said.
“As a Samoan born citizen, I believe the lack of honesty from the S.R.U. will further ensure Samoa's demise in rugby success, until the S.R.U. (led by the P.M.) becomes caring, open and honest people towards others.
“Surely, God wouldn't approve of this treatment? I apologize to Damien McGrath on behalf of Samoan citizens who do care!”
Another person is adamant that coach McGrath has done nothing wrong.
“This didn’t surprise me at all,” she said.
“That’s Samoan S.R.U. for you coach. There is such a thing called karma. Don’t worry coach you didn’t do anything wrong by me but like the saying, ‘what goes around, comes around’.”
And as McGrath was quickly scooped up by the Canadians to become their new Seven’s Head Coach, people still continued to take the Coach’s side.
“I hope the Canadian rugby Sevens do better than our Samoan Government! Oi I mean our Samoa Sevens,” said one.
“I wish (that) we will get beaten by Canada every time we meet,” said another.“And I hope he turns their team into a force to be reckoned with. S.R.U. needs to be humbled before we can progress. Good luck coach!” (visit Samoa Observer’s Facebook page to read more comments)
The people of Samoa have spoken.