Rugby Union chief gives verdict on Manu Samoa's World Cup campaign

The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.), Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, has admitted that the outcome of Manu Samoa's World Cup campaign was a "disappointing result."

But he believes the Union did everything they could to give the Manu Samoa every opportunity to achieve a quarterfinal spot, which was the target.

“We left no stone unturned to provide the best possible preparation for the team,” he said.

The Manu Samoa crashed out in the competition’s pool stages, managing just one win over Russia at the ongoing tournament in Japan.

The four teams remaining are New Zealand, South Africa, Wales and England.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Faleomavaega said the Union did their very best in planning and securing funding for the 12 month campaign leading into the tournament:

The minimum target for Samoa was a quarterfinal berth, a feat Samoa has not achieved since rugby turned professional in the mid-90s.

But Faleomavaega said that goal was a realistic one, especially given a relatively open Pool A, which gave sides every chance to progress.

“All the teams in our pool, we’ve beaten them before, while they were highly ranked,” he said.

“Apart from Japan who was the form team in our pool, I thought that was probably the weakest Scottish team [in some time], we could have beaten them. We just didn’t turn up on the day.”

All the preparation aside, Faleomavaega said eventually it all came down to those four individual performances against Russia, Scotland, Japan and Ireland:

“Whether the guys were in the right frame of mind to turn up on the day. That’s the way the game is, at the end of the day it’s just 15 guys against 15 guys.”

He said the Manu remains a team that can beat anyone on their day.

“Not just the Union but the whole country saw some glimpses, patches during the whole campaign prior to the World Cup, that we had huge potential,” Faleomavaega said. “If we played to our potential I think we could’ve done a lot better.”

Although S.R.U. saw that quarterfinal goal as an achievable one, the C.E.O. noted the difficulties faced by the Union, and by extension the team:

“Considering the limited resources we have, the limited pool of players we can select from.”

He said it’s a challenge to get enough games for the Manu Samoa as well, particularly high level ones.

For example, the Manu played 23 test matches between the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups, while the All Blacks played 47.

Faleomavaega said a factor that could have swung the campaign for Samoa was a few players who had initially put their hand up to join the Manu before hesitating.

“A couple were sitting on the fence, and I’m not sure whether it was pressure from their clubs, or personal decisions with their families, or not being confident with the past history of the Union, or some players might think I don’t wanna play for this coach.”

He said all those things were in play, as well as the possibility players made their decisions on the advice of their agents.

The current Manu Samoa coaching staff headed by Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson are contracted to the S.R.U. through November.

“We’re giving them the opportunity to prepare for their reviews, which will hopefully be done some time in November or December,” Faleomavaega said.

The results of those reviews will be reported to the S.R.U. Board, who will then decide whether to retain the staff or put the jobs on the open market.

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