Samoa's test matches not under threat, World Rugby says
DUBLIN (AP) — Samoa's test matches against Scotland and England this month are not under threat despite the Samoan Rugby Union's reported financial problems, governing body World Rugby said Wednesday.
Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of the SRU, told the Samoa Observer that the country's governing body was "insolvent," with the union unable to "pay off our debts with the banks" or fund player wages. He also said the SRU had no money to pay for its players' insurance.
World Rugby said it covers all the players' insurance costs and underwrites the cost of preparation camps and flights to and from test matches as part of its investment of 1.5 million pounds (nearly $2 million) in the SRU's high-performance program for 2017.
Samoa will play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday and England at Twickenham on Nov. 25. World Rugby said the host unions are covering Samoa's logistical costs on the ground.
The SRU wrote to England's Rugby Football Union several weeks ago, saying it was in dispute with World Rugby and requesting a match fee to aid their financial difficulties.
The RFU could make a goodwill payment of 75,000 pounds (almost $100,000) to the SRU, which would help to pay for the Samoa players' match fees. Last year, the RFU offered Fiji the same figure as a "goodwill gesture" ahead of a test at Twickenham, with match revenues generating about 10 million pounds ($13.1 million).
World Rugby's dispute with Samoa centers around governance issues and changes made to the team's coaching staff.