P.M. hits back at former Manu Captain
The Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has hit back at former Manu Samoa captain, Daniel Leo, who says there is too much political interference in the sport.
In an interview with ‘The Rugby Paper’ magazine, Leo said the case of Samoa proves why the Union’s leadership shouldn’t be mixed with the country’s politics.
But Tuilaepa said that politics and rugby in Samoa were not related concepts.
“I did not enter [Samoa Rugby Union] because of politics," he said during his regular address with state-owned radio station 2AP.
"I went in because I was the President of the Marist St Joseph’s rugby club at that time."
Tuilaepa, who is also the Prime Minister, said Leo was talking about things he did not understand.
“This is the disadvantage of a person who had been brought up overseas and then talks about things he does not understand,” Tuilaepa said.
The Prime Minister continued to hammer the former national player and founder of the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, claiming Leo entered the Manu Samoa through politics.
“He did not come through any trials, he came in through politics,” Tuilaepa said.
“[Leo] was brought in by Peter Fatialofa, it may just be their affiliations from Australia that got him through [to the Manu Samoa].
“And here he is talking about [Samoa] as he forgets that it was through politics that allowed him to play for the Manu Samoa.”
Papali'itele Peter Fatialofa is a legendary Manu Samoa figure who had captained the national team during its glory days. He later became an administrator and a coach before he passed away.
Earlier this week, Leo urged World Rugby to take seriously political interference in the game.
He said if the game’s governing body did not his union would have no choice but to escalate matters to the International Olympic Committee.
He was specifically speaking in response to the matter of Fijian Francis Kean, who, as Chair of the Fiji Rugby Union stood, was slated to vote in recent elections for the game’s chairman.
Kean, who is also Prime Minister and Fijian Rugby Union President Frank Bainimarama’s brother-in-law, was convicted of manslaughter in 2007 for killing a guest at the Prime Minister’s daughter’s wedding.
“If the governance issues within Pacific Island’s rugby are not properly dealt with, then P.R.P.W. will have no choice other than to take the matter to the IOC and let them decide if these corrupt administrators are people they want involved in their Olympics,” Mr. Leo said.
“We will not be silenced; this has gone for too long.”
He said World Rugby has shown it doesn’t want to “get their hands dirty,” especially in the case of Samoa where the Prime Minister is also Chair of the Samoa Rugby Union, something World Rugby ought to avoid.
Under Prime Minister Tuilaepa appointment as S.R.U. Chair, starting in 2014, Samoa has gone from seventh to 15th place in the world rankings, Leo pointed out.
“So what bigger red flag do you need to say things are wrong,” Leo asked.
“If I was World Rugby., I’d want to know where my millions were going. They have put a significant amount of money into the Pacific Islands, around £20 million (T$67.1 million over four years we’ve been told, but where has that gone?
“We’ve made no impression at World Cups and I’d want better results.”