Organisers of the Super 9 rugby competition and the Rugby Referee Association have come under fire for the non-appearance of referees at yesterday’s under 20’s semifinals.
Member of Parliament for Falealili West, Aumua Isaia Lameko, who is also co-Chairman of the B.S.P. Southern Tornados, expressed disappointment and the lack of sportsmanship by the referee to inform the two teams of they will not officiate at the match.
“Otherwise we would’ve not come at all. We were told the referees were appointed during the week and now we are here for the semifinals and they are a no show,” he said.
Aumua’s team was scheduled to play A’ana Chiefs in yesterday’s match. Repeated efforts to get comments from the Rugby Referee Association have been unsuccessful.
“Furthermore, we were told the referees boycotted the games, but even S.R.U. is tightlipped about the issue and we have had to relay the sad news to the players. It’s disheartening to hear firsthand from S.R.U. official there are internal issues that led to the no show of the referees.”
Aumua added that it is unacceptable for the organisers to do that when the completion is now in the semifinals.
“The effort put in, to prepare the teams, the funds invested by the sponsors for this week’s preparations only to be told the referees are not present? Even more disappointing is to see the families catching the bus around 5 a.m.; coming all the way from Siumu and Falelalili to support their children, yet the games were cancelled.”
The Samoa Observer arrived at the Marist field at Lotopa on yesterday morning to see teams leaving the compound.
According to Aumua, the S.R.U. is responsible for the no-show by the referees.
“This is all on their head, we are trying to develop rugby and it takes a lot of work to bring the players to play – it will be a setback.”
Aumua also called on the S.R.U. to cover their expenses for the next week’s game, when the new date for the semifinals match is confirmed.
“Each week our sponsors pay $3000 for water; food; petrol and everything catering to the needs of the team and the players; and this is not only dampens the enthusiastic spirit of the players, but also muddles with the team’s finances,” he added.
Super 9 Rugby Manager, Seiuli Salesa, declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper and advised they are still waiting for the referees.
The Chief Executive Officer of S.R.U. Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i told the Samoa Observer that there are issues with referees.
When asked about reports of a proposed boycott, he refused to comment and said they were not sure what happened.
“I cannot speculate – up until now we are not sure what happened. We are unaware as to why all of the sudden the referees did not show up. The appointments were made this week delegating the referees for their games; but to be informed they were a no show today must be investigated by the S.R.U.”
“The Super 9 Rugby tournaments are overseen by the S.R.U. and so we are keen too, to find out why this has happened,” he said.
According to Faleomavaega, the S.R.U. have standby referees who can easily take over when the referee does not turn up. It is understood the other Super 9 rugby games held at the Apia Park continued as scheduled.