P.R.P.W. in the islands to donate gear, film documentary
Pacific Rugby Player’s Welfare (PRPW) chief executive officer and former Manu Samoa Lock Daniel Leo attended the Marist International Sevens Tournament while he was in Samoa filming for a documentary on rugby in the Pacific.
He presented gear donated from professional players and clubs in Europe to two teams from Savaii playing in the tournament; Taga Blowholes and Gataivai.
Leo said PRPW brought 100 full uniforms to give away over their filming trip to Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.
“Part of coming over here as well is to really try and help encourage the development of rugby.”
With the donation to Taga’s women’s team, Leo stressed the importance of diversity in the sport.
“That’s the way the game is going.
“It’s a small token, but hopefully we can build on this.”
He said it was great to see efforts being made on the island, one example being the second year of a women’s tournament at the Marist Sevens.
“If we think we’re hard done by as men in this country and in the Pacific, the women have got it a lot harder.
“I remember playing for Samoa and the girls’ team were waiting to come on and they were asking us to borrow boots so they can go and train.”
Based in England, Leo said he tries to get back to Samoa at least once a year.
“I think it’s important when you’re working in Pacific rugby welfare to keep rooted in the local game, and in touch with grassroots rugby.
“In the islands the game is continually evolving, the challenges are changing.”
He said it was important to keep coming back and up to date with whats happening on the island, and the issues affecting the players here.
That will inform much of the upcoming documentary, which is about highlighting what PRPW believe are the injustices in rugby, with all the money being held by a select few.
“[It’s] about the pathway, or the lack of a pathway really here on island that’s forced so many players to move overseas.”
“That’s alright if you’re going to big contracts, but if you’re going to chase peanuts in a Romania or a Poland it becomes an issue, and it shouldn’t have to be the case.”
Leo said they want to get people talking about the issues, in order to put pressure on the likes of World Rugby.
Samoa and Fiji were recently granted seats on the World Rugby Council for the first time, with the global body citing governance issues in the countries as the reason it had not happened before.
“We believe the governance is a reflection of the lack of a fair funding model,” Leo said.
He said the difference in resources between the Marist Sevens and a competition like it in England is vast, which shouldn’t be the case.
“We’re providing just as many quality players, we’re working just as hard on the field as they are.”
Leo said it’s been an interesting project, talking to Samoa Rugby Union chairman Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi and cheif executive officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i about the challenges they face.
“What we’re finding is it’s the same in Tonga, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the same in Fiji.”