The Manu Samoa Sevens is dedicating their next tournament, the Hong Kong Sevens next week, to the late La’auli Alan Grey.
They will be wearing black arm bands to honour La’auli celebrated as the man responsible for propelling Manu Samoa to the world stage single handedly.
“He’s an exemplary man,” are the compliments from Manu Samoa 7s Sir Gordon Titjens who attended the funeral services today with the Manu Samoa 7s to pay homage to one Samoa’s greatest rugby icon.
“He has left behind a huge pair of shoes to fill and as the man responsible for taking Manu Samoa brand to the world, Samoa should be proud.”
Sir Gordon says that it’s a sad day for Samoa and extended his condolences to the Grey family.
Today, Samoa mourns the loss of an icon of not just rugby, but sports as a whole. While we mourn the passing of La’auli Alan Grey, a man who devoted his life to the sport, we celebrate the man who has long ago etched into the upper-echelon of rugby immortality.
La’auli’s personal contributions in business and sports did not go unnoticed as Government accorded him the highest accolades for his achievements and contribution with the Samoa Order of Merits award in 1993 after he retired from rugby.
La’auli was unique and one of a kind. And you only need to ask Uaea Laki Apelu why.
Apelu was one of the four elites along with La’auli Alan Grey, Piliopo Maia’i and Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale who orchestrated the rise of Manu Samoa from the ground in the early 1990s to stardom and where it is today.
La’auli of course as the patriarch and single financer of the campaign to the 1991 World Cup which included financing all the qualification games and recharge expenses. And that amounted to millions which covered travel and accommodations costs not to mention allowances for the players.
Apelu, Tuatagaloa and Mrs Maia’i were in charge of the logistics and it was no walk in the park with limited resources available.
And as the world witnessed first-hand, history was made in the 1991 World Cup with Samoa vaulting into the world arena with their historical win over Wales.
It was the first time a seeded nation had lost to a non-seed in the competition and the first Wales defeat at the hands of the underrated Samoans.
Again in the 1995 World Cup, it was La’auli who single handedly financed the Samoa Rugby Union’s campaign.
“It was trying times for Samoa Rugby before it was rebranded as Manu Samoa,” recalls Apelu.
“But La’auli was never fazed, always patient, calm and committed. He remained true to his passion to lift Samoa Rugby to the next level.”
Back then, there was no hand out from the International Rugby Board now renamed as World Rugby. Corporate sponsorship from the business sector was scarce and government was not even on board to assist with the Union’s financial plight.
But La’auli marched on pouring his financial resources and his business Aggie Grey’s Hotel unselfishly to escalate Manu Samoa to become the world darlings of rugby.
That enormous debt along with La’auli’s personal and business sacrifices remains unpaid in full.
La’auli will be remembered as a humble, unassuming man, with a generous heart.
La’auli has served as Union Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and Vice Chairman for close to 4 decades before he retired.
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Marina and three children, daughters Aggie and Tanya and son Fred Grey. And as Sir Gordon sums it up, La’auli’s passing is “a very sad day for Samoa.”