The Constitution and Governance Advisor for Oceania Rugby, Dr. Paul Terry Jonson from Sydney, Australia, is in Samoa facilitating a workshop for Samoa Rugby’s constitution.
Held at the Tanoa Tusitala Conference room yesterday, the full day workshop attracted more than 20 club coaches and secondary schools coaches.
Dr. Jonson said the workshop aims to set up directives and guidelines for new constitutions and new structures for the Samoa Rugby Union to be in the same place with other Rugby Nations adopting the new constitutions.
“So today’s workshop is a combination of discussions between Oceania Rugby, who is the regional association for the Pacific and the World Rugby, and Samoa Rugby Union to develop their constitutions.”
“Oceania Rugby has asked me to be their constitution advisor to discuss with all the Pacific Islands Rugby Unions to revise their constitution.”
“And why they want to do that?”
“It’s because Samoa Rugby Union, like many organisations, when they first develop their constitutions it was a different world.”
“It was an amateur world, there wasn’t much professional rugby and of course there wasn’t the same globalised environment in which rugby is now played and which Samoa is very much a part of.”
Dr. Jonson believes the constitution adopted by the Samoa Rugby Union needs to be developed.
“So the constitution has served the organisation well until now and in order to achieve that lofty ambition of Samoa Rugby to be involved with World Rugby, to be involved in the Olympic Games possibly to be involved in a Super Rugby, it needs to have a more contemporary corporate-like constitution.”
“And to modernise the constitution to be more suitable for the environment in which Samoa Rugby is now participating.”
“So what we will be doing after today (yesterday) during the course of the day we will examine the Samoa Rugby Union’s structures and processes in that constitution and see how this can change to be more effective in the contemporary context.”
“So at the end of the day we hope we will come up with a set of directives and guidelines for new constitutions, a new structure and more suitable processes to compliment that structure and from there I will go away and draft a constitution for Samoa Rugby.”
Dr. Jonson believes by the time he returns, the Union will have an understanding of the new constitution.
“That when I come back to the Board and the Members of Samoa Rugby and they will discuss and give me some feedback as to what things they think can change or amend it (constitution).”
“I will then make those changes and come back in a few months’ time hopefully and present a new draft constitution for adoption by the association.”
Dr. Jonson praised the Samoa Rugby Union’s current constitution.
He says there are certain issues in there that needs attention.
“To be candidate, I think it’s a good constitution, it has a lot of good features, but there are certain parts of it that certainly do need attention and not in any major way, but in terms of the processes there are some issues there but in terms of the structure, I think the structure is like most constitutions that were drawn up and needs change.”
“So for instance, they have on the board a secretary and a treasurer an honourary solicitor, those sorts of position are outdated because when the constitutions were first formed you didn’t have a C.E.O. and you didn’t have a full-time staff.”
“Now Samoa Rugby has a full time staff and a good staff and so those positions are no longer relevant.”
Dr. Jonson added another change they are looking is inviting more women in the rugby constitution and governance.
“Also there is no provision for women on the board in the constitution. World Rugby has made it very clear that it wants more women involved in the governance of the sport.”
“Most new organisations have a compulsory woman on the board not just representing women’s rugby but for women’s input.”
“And I think of course that’s not part of the constitution and so we make that part of the constitution that ensures women’s representations.”
“And we also have to think of what other expertise we need on the board so we can ensure we address the board and deal with those bigger issues that now confront rugby.”
Chief Executive of the Samoa Rugby Union, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, said the workshop was the last and important part of the Samoa Rugby Union’s reforms process.
He believes for any constitution, it needs to be in line with their international committee so they can continue working together.
And he stated that this will be able to modernise our system to the current environment that we have today.
“I think this is the last and most important part of the reforms process over the last couple of years is for Samoa Rugby Union to review its constitution to be in line of what’s happening around the world, especially in sports.”
“And I think it’s a very important part in of the process for us to upgrade and update our constitutions, and also for Samoa Rugby Union to be able to gain a seat in the World Rugby. For that to happen, we must comply with certain aspects of the guidelines they have given us,” added Fepulea’i.