World Rugby, S.R.U. disagree

By Ulimasao Fata ,

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RUGBY MATTERS: Brett Gosper and P.M. Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

RUGBY MATTERS: Brett Gosper and P.M. Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. (Photo: Photosport & Samoa Observer)

Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.), Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has expressed his heartfelt thanks to the nation for their support.

 “Thank you to everyone from businesses, to individuals, churches who all donated unselfishly to our pleas for your support,” he said.

Tuilaepa’s thank you comes after a Radiothon he spearheaded calling for help to save the bankrupted S.R.U.

Last night, the Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Rugby Union, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, confirmed that about $400,000 was pledged during the 10-hour radiothon.

 “The Samoa Rugby Union received about $400,000 from all the donations and pledges during that night,” Faleomavaega said. 

“The Union is now working this weekend to go out and collect the money from the public according to the form and names who made pledges.”

Faleomavaega added the final and confirmed amount would be given out next week after the collection.

But the country’s response has touched Chairman Tuilaepa. 

He is especially grateful for the gift of $160,000 Chinese Construction company, Shanghai Construction.

He also acknowledged the pledge by the England Rugby Union of US$100,000 (T$255,208).

The radiothon followed the public declaration by the Prime Minister that the Union was “insolvent.”

The money therefore will help pay for the insurance of Manu Samoa players who are in Europe for their Northern Hemisphere tour, which starts against Scotland on Sunday morning.

It will also be used to pay the salary of coach, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua. His appointment has been questioned by World Rugby after the S.R.U. rejected the recommendation by the Selection Panel and picked the seventh ranked Fuimaono for the job. 

On Thursday night, the World Rugby disputed the claim about the insurance of players.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper also said his organisation would examine S.R.U's problems.

"There may be some governance issues here that we need to take a closer look at," he told Sky Sports UK.

"They have occurred in the past and we've sat down with them and helped them in different ways to get themselves back on their feet."

Mr. Gosper warned the S.R.U could not simply expect a handout, saying World Rugby was already the largest financial contributor to the sport in the Pacific island nations of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.

He said it had budgeted about £7 million for Samoan rugby between 2015 and 2019, up 30 percent on the previous four-yearly World Cup cycle.

While the three Pacific nations have a wealth of playing talent, they have all experienced financial issues in recent years.

The problem is partly mismanagement, but they also lack the sponsorship opportunities and huge support bases enjoyed by larger nations.

Gosper said 90 percent of rugby's revenue was generated by the 10 tier one nations.

"It's a fact of life. There's an economic difference in the unions in some parts of the world versus the unions in other parts of the world," he said.

"There isn't sufficient money to create the redistribution that may well lead to an equalisation of pay. There are market forces that are very hard to swim against."

One solution floated is giving sides such as Samoa a share of gate takings when they tour wealthy nations such as Britain. England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) makes an estimated £10 million when a Test at the 80,000-plus capacity Twickenham stadium is sold out, but the touring side receives nothing.

"This is something that we can look at, but it's something the tier ones are very nervous about because they don't want to set precedents.”

 

- Additional reporting from AFP

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