The real issue with rugby

Dear Editor,

Re: Remember Mahonri Schwalger?

I think if there is fault to be found in the Union, it is that the Union should’ve put together a scrum and lineout school years ago. I am talking way back in 1995 when our set pieces were just as bad as they are now. 

The biggest weakness in Samoan rugby on the field has always been the tight-forwards. They are the most important people in a rugby team because they are in charge of winning and keeping possession. Without the ball, you can’t win a rugby match.

There is only 2 times that Samoa’s set pieces have been consistently world class or at least held parity with the opposition. In 1991 when the Samoan forwards - the best we have ever seen - pushed the world champion Australians all over Pontypridd in the mud. Those tight-forwards, Stan Toomalatai, Peter Fatialofa, Vili Alaalatoa, Mataafa Keenan, Mark Birtwhistle, were the best tight-five unit in Samoan history. They knew how to scrum and win lineouts (their main jobs on the field). The second time was between 2010-2012, when Samoa benefited from Aussie McLean and Tom Coventry’s skilled coaching. McLean now coaches with the All Blacks.

Off the field, I don’t disagree that Samoa Rugby needs a good solid foundation. However since 2011, we have had a new C.E.O. (Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai), a new Director of Rugby (Brian Hopley), a new 15’s coach (first Betham and now Alama Ieremia) and management teams, several 7s coaches and management teams, new trainers and even a new website administrator. These are the people who run the teams and the Union on a daily basis. I understand that all these people are paid directly by World Rugby. The new coaches are chosen by an independent panel run by World Rugby. For example Alama Ieremia was chosen by a panel consisting of world rugby and S.R.U. representatives and chaired by former All Black Graham Mourie. There is even a new Samoan representative to the Oceania rugby forum. Matafeo George Latu is in. The controversial Lefau Harry Schuster is gone.

I haven’t read any issues or complaints about all these people who have been hired. The only controversy was over McGrath’s sacking. Nobody will argue about Tietjen’s hiring though. Samoa arguably has the best 7s coach in the world now. Ben Ryan is no longer coaching 7s.


PS Jeffrey

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