Golden opportunity for Samoa

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 06 August 2016, 12:00AM

It’s not Super Rugby but it’s the next best thing for Samoa. Besides, a Super Rugby 10s tournament promising a windfall of more than a million tala in prize money should be more than enticing enough for the Samoa Rugby Union to start planning for it seriously. 

We are referring to the Brisbane Global Tens launched on Thursday at Takapuna, Auckland. Founded by Duco Events, the tournament kicks off next year and it has been talked up to rival the popular Rugby League Nines in Auckland for the next four years.

What’s important for us is that Samoa is among the 10 professional franchises to feature in the inaugural tournament. It means that a team from Samoa – preferably the Manu Samoa – will join top sides from Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan and South Africa to vie for the top prize.

“The Brisbane Global Tens is the pre-eminent rugby tens tournament on the planet on every measure,” David Higgins, the director of Duco Events said. 

“The quality of clubs, players and venue, the participation and prize money, broadcast reach and audience size is unprecedented, making it a truly unique event that will become an iconic fixture in the international sporting calendar.”

“For Duco this has been a three-year journey filled with numerous challenges. Creating something new is never easy. It takes courage and vision. That this event has come together so spectacularly is a credit to everyone who has backed it.”

With a six-figure sum available to the winning team, plus a cut going to the successful players, there will be every incentive to do well. Another key attraction is the promise for top Super rugby players to be available with stars like Jerome Kaino and Israel Dagg fronting the official launch press conference. 

Already, it has been confirmed that the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders will all send strong teams. 

If anything, this tournament is an amazing opportunity for Samoa.  

And we must thank Duco Events for recognizing the great talent that is available on these shores. Going on form, they could have easily picked Fiji but they didn’t. David Higgins, who is a Samoan chief by the way holding the title Segialii from Aufaga said there is no better team to pick from the Pacific than Samoa.

Manu Samoa Samoa Coach, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, knows how important the opportunity is.

“We are grateful and appreciate the opportunity as we see this as an international global event in which elite professional teams and clubs will showcase their talents,” he said. “We are excited and are very keen to do well in this tournament. We are looking forward to mixing it up with the major teams.”

If we are serious about winning this tournament, there is no doubt that the odds are stacked against Samoa. Which why the powers that be in rugby must learn from the mistake they made in the approach to the failed Olympics bid the country is still smarting from. 

We’re talking about taking an inexperienced team to the qualification rounds – even with the knowledge of how critical the tournaments were for Samoa to qualify. The result was bitterly disappointing and we will regret it as long as it could be remembered. 

We cannot make the same mistake again with the 10s. It is absolutely critical that Samoan rugby make a serious decision to attract our best players – wherever they are – to front this campaign.

Coach Namulauulu has already indicated that he hopes to get the best players released from their Clubs in order to try to win the tournament.

“We’ll have immediate conversations with the clubs and World Rugby about regulations and releases, because the players are already asking and putting their hands up,” he said.

“We’ll be bringing the best team we can for the event. The main goal for me is to really try to win it. It’s a huge opportunity for us.”

We couldn’t agree more. 

For that to happen though, the Samoa Rugby Union must invest some serious cash into attracting these players. Gone are the days where Samoan rugby was all about heart, passion and pride. While money is not everything, in this day and age, it goes a long way to determine the difference between pretenders and contenders.

With the Global 10s, Samoa has been handed a golden opportunity to revive our fortunes – both in terms of the prize money on offer – as well as restoring some of that lost pride in our rugby. 

Let’s not stuff this up. We need to make the most of the opportunity. What do you think? Have a fabulous weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 06 August 2016, 12:00AM
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