Virus threat halts Samoa Rugby Union's plans
With the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic looming over Samoa, the Samoa Rugby Union are putting all their programmes on hold for the time being.
The Manu Samoa Sevens squad and other training groups had their final sessions together on Friday.
“Everything now is put on hold," Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) Chief Executive Officer, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea'i said.
“All campaigns will now be disbanded until further notice."
S.R.U. are stopping all forms of group gatherings, including development programmes in schools, and none of its staff will attend any courses or trainings overseas for the time being.
“It gives us time also to sit back and do a lot of other things that we wouldn’t have been able to do," Faleomavaega said, noting the Union was set for a busy few months hosting Manumā Samoa home matches until Global Rapid Rugby was suspended due to COVID-19.
Those Manumā players and the Manu Samoa 7s squad are both contracted by S.R.U.
“Whatever players that are on contract at the moment, we’ll still be honouring those as if they were playing," Faleomavaega said.
They will be encouraged to keep up individual training programmes at home for the time being.
Manusina were slated to host a 2021 Rugby World Cup qualifying playoff against Tonga at Apia Park on the 18th of April, however that too has been deferred.
The prospect of postponement also hangs over the London and Paris legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series in May, as well as the Pacific Nations Cup in July
“We’re just sitting back and seeing how it goes," Faleomavaega said.
“It’s all going to cramp to the second half of the season.
“For us, the Union, our main concern is Samoa."
As the public health situation evolves over the coming weeks, S.R.U. will be seeking a new head coach for Manu Samoa to lead the team through that Pacific Nations Cup.
“That’s going to go to market very shortly, advertisement’s going to go out pretty soon," Faleomavaega said.
“Where the Board sits at this point in time, we had expected to make an appointment by May, and then the campaign would have started in July."
S.R.U. hope to have the role filled by May regardless of whether the Pacific Nations Cup goes ahead as scheduled.
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing [if the competition gets postponed] in terms of planning for the new person who comes on board," the Chief Exectutive Officer said.