Union faces legal threat

The Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U) and a former Manager of the Manu Samoa Sevens, Leulua’iali’i Theresa Passi, could be heading for a collision course in Court.

Days after the Union announced that she had “stepped down” from the role only a few months after she was appointed; the Weekend Observer understands Leulua'iali’i is considering suing the Union over her dismissal.

Contacted for a comment, Leuluaiali’i declined telling the Weekend Observer she had some “legal issues” to sort out. 

She did not elaborate.

But the former Manager was quoted by Samoa Planet as having said that “factional jostlings for preferred personnel ensued in the last two to three weeks” of her time with the Union. 

She said conditions within the Samoa Rugby Union are not ideal for women.

“I do feel for the women working for the S.R.U. A woman can do the job subject to having a management team that practices what the organisation aspires to do.”

During an interview with the Weekend Observer, the Chief Executive Officer of the S.R.U, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, rejected the claim saying it is offensive and nonsense.

 “We have five females on our staff and they are the most hardworking employees we have on our staff,” he said. 

“So I take personal offense to the allegations of gender discrimination. I admire and have the utmost respect for the women in S.R.U.”

According to Faleomavaega, the decision to part ways with Leulua’iali’i and to appoint Shalom Senara to the position was based on a review of her work performance.

“The decision was made following her work performance review at the end of her three months probationary term, which is something Theresa was well aware of,” said Faleomavaega.  

The C.E.O. said the Manager of the Sevens team works closely with the Head Coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens.  “At the end of the day, the coach makes the recommendations following the review. A recommendation the S.R.U. has to consider.” 

Faleomavaega credited the former Manager’s work in terms of providing nutritional meals for the players and daily support for the coaches.

“Whilst a lot was implemented under a difficult environment where resources and decisions are at most times under financial strain, Theresa tried at best to cope and keep up with the demands and expectations of a demanding programme as the Sevens.

“After consulting with Sir Gordon, Theresa regrettably still had a lot to learn and she acknowledged this.”

In a statement quoted by Samoa Planet, Leulua’iali’i described the working conditions as “exhausting.” 

“This required early rises at 4.30am to access my home internet, getting to the High Performance Unit to cook breakfast, serve breakfast, arrange ice for training, book facilities for training, shop for groceries etc,” she is quoted as saying.

 “I would shop for groceries with my own money and then seek reimbursement afterwards.

 “I had an exhausting week for the trials – 4 airport pickups of overseas trialists from airport, and return drop offs at ungodly hours, arranging refs & touch judges, red cross, physio, drinking ice, bath ice, bfast, lunches, nius, ripe bananas, transport, daily washing of one set of practice jerseys … leading to final selection of 2 squads…with costs all funded by my partner.”

 “Planning for the Manu Samoa Sevens overseas circuit I was already linking up with host Unions… Silicon Valley, Dubai, Capetown,..with no access to internet.”

 “I was then called in to a supposed review of the trial week, only to be told at the meeting that the Union preferred a more experienced manager. ”

Faleomavaega cited “poor planning” as one of the key considerations behind their decision.

 “The lack of proper planning, to the catering of the players during training is well within the duties of the Manager. 

“So the procedure is that, a proposal is drafted, presented to management and then once it’s approved then, we can go ahead and purchase what was needed. 

“But that did not happen here. There was no pre-planning and things were purchased then the S.R.U. was asked to reimburse what they did not approve. 

“Policies and procedures are in place for a reason. S.R.U. operates on limited funds and so when mistakes are made and unnecessary costs have to be paid by S.R.U. as a result of mistakes, that is unacceptable. 

“There have been many complaints on the administration with the poor financing as we do our best to settle every bill we owe and cater for every team player, tournament and test match we can. 

“But unfortunately, we are governed by our finances and tough decisions do need to be made and done through the proper processes and approvals.”

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