Games rugby coach under fire over video showing altercation

The American Samoa women’s rugby coach Annie Coffin has been asked to step down in connection with an alleged assault incident, which was captured on video and shared on social media.

This was confirmed by the Vice President of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee, Ethan Lake in response to questions from the Samoa Observer. 

“We are aware of the video, we saw it last night (Saturday) and we’ve handled it and from my understanding from the witnesses present, the coach did not strangle the player.”

The video shows Coffin appearing to make physical contact with the player, before the video footage shows her walking away from the scene. 

Just before she reaches out to the player, she could be heard saying, "when I put you on the field to play, you play.”

Attempts by this newspaper to contact the coach for comment, which included a visit to the Faleula Games Village where the American Samoa team has taken up residence for the Pacific Games, were not successful.

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Mr Lake told this newspaper that Coffin allegedly held the player on the chin, which he said should not happen. 

“The coach should never under any circumstances touch the athletes. I tend to believe that if someone was choking you, there would be a reaction.” 

There were a lot of factors at play which led to the altercation which was captured in the video, he added. 

“The challenge is this, not that I am defending Annie, but it is complicated. All the younger players are listening, yet we have these adult players, and they think that because you’re an adult you can do whatever you want.

“That is not the case when you’re an athlete you have to respect the coach," he said.

Mr Lake described the incident as "unfortunate" and said Coffin has been asked to step down from her position as the women's rugby coach.

“It is unfortunate this has happened and it shouldn’t have occurred and that it is my understanding she has been asked to step down as coach for the games. 

"I spoke to the coach, rugby players and the athlete involved and while I don’t condone what happened, but people lose their temper at times,” he said.

Coffin is a senior police officer in American Samoa and is the women's rugby team coach in the American Samoa squad to the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

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