Manu Samoa northern hemisphere tours cancelled
Lakapi Samoa has announced its elite teams Manu Samoa and Manu Samoa 7s have withdrawn from their Northern Hemisphere tour scheduled for next month as well as the two HSBC Sevens World Series legs in Dubai next month and in December.
The decision by the Lakapi Samoa Board was taken in line with the relevant Samoa Government’s Health Special Travel Advice which acknowledged the COVID-19-related challenges in relation to players based in New Zealand.
Lakapi Samoa Chief Executive Officer, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai, said they are not able to guarantee the safety of any of their players during the pandemic hence the decision to pull out.
“Lakapi Samoa was not able to assure or guarantee the safety of any of our players and management whilst campaigning and the current S.O.E. measures by the Government restricts the return of anyone within six months of contracting the virus," said Faleomavaega.
“This was a major obstacle to keep our borders safe. We do accept the implications and scale of consequences the pandemic can have on our small island country with its limited resources."
According to the statement, Manu Samoa’s Head Coach, Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua expressed disappointment and added that it is tough for the Manu Samoa players, fans and their hosting Unions.
“As Head Coach, our performance and reputation to our brand is severely hampered if we cannot get our team together,” he said.
Vaovasamanaia said even though he and his team are upset at not being able to partake in the scheduled tour, putting the safety and well-being of Samoa while protecting the nation from the current COVID-19 variant pandemic was ultimately the right call.
Lakapi Samoa has the full assistance of World Rugby to find any potential short-term competition solutions while increasing efforts to ensure a strong program of matches in 2022 and beyond.
Both parties are committed to secure a “Manu Samoa selection” fixture against the UK Barbarians involving Europe-based players and coaches.
Head Coach of the Manu Samoa Sevens team, Muliagatele Brian Lima said the country's strict COVID-19 measures mean they will also miss the first World Series tournaments in Edmonton and Vancouver.
“There’s not much we can do about it, Lakapi Samoa is prioritizing the health and welfare of the players. Myself and the boys were gutted when we heard about the decision, but I think it was the right call,” stated Muliagatele.