More than $350,000 pledged for ‘bankrupt’ Samoa Rugby Union

By Ulimasao Fata ,

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

More than $350,000 has been pledged to the Manu Samoa and the Samoa Rugby Union during a Radiothon, which ended last night.

The fundraiser held at the S.T.A Fale and screened live on TV1 followed the public declaration by the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi that the Union is “insolvent.”

The proceeds are to help pay for the insurance of Manu Samoa players who are in Europe for their Northern Hemisphere tour, which starts against Scotland on Sunday moening.

It will also be used to pay the salary of coach, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, whose appointment is being disputed by World Rugby. 

When the Radiothon ended on TV last night, it was announced that the money pledged was some $354,000. This includes a donation of more than $150,000 from a Chinese company.

Earlier, Tuilaepa had urged Samoans to help.

In his opening address, Tuilaepa noted that while Samoa’s rugby has not delivered enlightening results, it is the nature of the sport.

“Compared to powerful and resourceful rugby nations with the financial capacities complemented by millions in pool players to select their national sides, Samoa’s meager population of a little over 180,000 to pick our best cannot compete,” he said.

“On that note, I commend our overseas based players who have put country before money by committing to play and represent Samoa not only in rugby but in rugby league and other sports disciplines.

“You only need to look at the Tongan representative team competing in the Rugby League World Cup.

“The Tongan players have sacrificed their lucrative salaries to take time out from their New Zealand and Australian Clubs to put country first.”

On that note, the Prime Minister pointed out that despite the S.R.U.’s financial dilemma it is not stopping the union from moving forward with chances that include a slight increase in allowances for players.

“Retaining our players is a crucial component to the SRU’s long term investment to have our best players available to represent Samoa,” said Tuilaepa.

Secondly, the Union Chairman noted that the results from last week’s  LA Sevens where Samoa ranked 5th in front of New Zealand 6th and Fiji 7th is a good re-start for Manu Samoa 7s to regain its foothold in the I.R.B. Circuit.

“This is a Union which has faced many challenges around the board table and on the field,” added the Chairman.

“We are a Union with endless financial tension that is continuously in the public arena, and haunted by its past failures and at times we have copped unfair and scathing criticism.”

On that note, Tuilaepa implored all Samoa rugby supporters to play their part by supporting the radiothon.

He also acknowledged the support of TV1-Samoa Broadcasting Corporation Limited and its Radio FM 89.1 complemented by Radio 2AP who facilitated with the live broadcast of the event.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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