Tuilagi spearhead calls for England players to help Samoa
England-based Samoan star, Manu Tuilagi, has asked England’s players to help Samoan rugby by splitting match fees for their upcoming test match.
Born in Samoa, Tuilagi has been joined by Tonga-born Mako Vunipola in taking up Samoa’s call for help.
The players have asked the English team to donate five per cent of their earnings to Samoa.
“If 23 England players give £1,000 each, that will make a lot of difference to the Islanders,” Vunipola told the Mail on Sunday.
“We’re very lucky over here with the security we have from our clubs and England. A union as big as England get a lot of revenue so I’d like to see them help out Samoa.
“I have no interest in politics at all — Maro Itoje had to explain to me what Brexit meant — but I’m interested in helping people back home. People think the situation will solve itself but it’s getting worse. If players help out, maybe the higher ups will see and realise they should help out as well.”
England players will earn £22,000 per Test, compared with £650 for their Samoan opponents.
There is currently no World Rugby regulation for host nations to share matchday revenues, although the governing bodies are under increasing pressure to change the economic model.
And Samoa-born Tuilagi believes far more than a £1,000 player donation is needed to get to the root of the problem.
“That small gesture would go a long way and hopefully it would set an example for the RFU to follow,” said Tuilagi who, like Vunipola, is a Pacific Rugby Welfare board member.
“It’s unfair. They need help from the rugby world but they also need to look at themselves and the people running the union.
“They’re close to bankruptcy – a million pounds in debt – and can you imagine a rugby world with no Samoa? A rugby world without Samoa is no rugby world to me. It would be very, very sad. There’s so much potential. With the right infrastructure and management, they can be as good as any team in the world.”