Prove me wrong, P.M. unrepentant
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is unrepentant about calling Manu Samoa Sevens players uneducated.
He has instead challenged the team to prove him wrong by winning a tournament before the end of the year.
The team has at least three tournaments remaining, two for the H.S.B.C. Sevens Series in Paris and London and the all important Rugby World Cup in San Francisco, U.S.A.
The Prime Minister did not say whether he would withdraw his comment if the team eventually wins.
But Tuilaepa, who is the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, admitted during his weekly media conference that his comments had offended the players and their families.
When the team bombed out of the Hong Kong Sevens and the Commonwealth Games, Tuilaepa said the players play like “no school before.” The slang is commonly used to refer to people who have had no formal education.
“It is not the coach,” Tuilaepa said then.
“This is solely the result of the players' performance. Keep in mind some of the players were not educated properly.
“Looking at players from Africa and Britain, if you ask about their educational backgrounds, you will find that they attend universities.
“But what about our players? Well that is the struggle faced by the coach given that our players, some of whom did not reach standard four.”
Standard Four is the equivalent of Year 4 in Primary School today.
According to the Prime Minister, when the Samoa Observer reported his comments, the players became deeply offended. So he called a meeting with them.
“I told them that if they didn’t like what I said, then go and win a tournament and prove me wrong,” Tuilaepa said.
The Chairman of the S.R.U. also told them he was tired of making up excuses about their sub par performances.
“I said to them that if they continue to play badly, what am I supposed to tell the country? They don’t expect me to keep making up nonsense to excuse their poor performance so they have to start winning.”
Tuilaepa maintained that the team’s poor form is not the fault of highly rated coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens. He reminded that Sir Gordon is one of the best coaches in the world, having won more Sevens tournaments than any other coach alive or dead.
And yet his reputation is being smeared by players who don’t use their brains when they play.
The Prime Minister added that the current crop of Sevens players have no excuse for their form. He said they are now contracted Sevens players which means they are getting paid.
This is much better than the conditions under which previous teams faced and yet they went on to win tournaments – including a World Rugby Sevens World title.