World Rugby has disputed claims by the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi that the Union is bankrupt.
It has done so in a strongly worded statement issued in response to barrage of verbal attacks from Prime Minister Tuilaepa last week.
“Recent statements made by the chairman of the S.R.U questioning World Rugby’s funding package are inaccurate,” the statement reads.
“While the S.R.U’s failure to implement some jointly agreed high-performance initiatives in 2017 is a concern to World Rugby, it has resulted in a small amount of conditional investment being withheld.”
On the issue of the Union being “insolvent” as Prime Minister Tuilaepa said, World Rugby rejected this outright.
“World Rugby can clarify that the union is not bankrupt and would also like to clarify the inaccurate statements made by the S.R.U. Chairman relating to the selection of the national men’s 15s team coach.”
Read World Rugby’s statement in full below:
“World Rugby continues to be fully committed to assisting the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) with its current financial challenges.
Recent statements made by the chairman of the SRU questioning World Rugby’s funding package are inaccurate. While the SRU’s failure to implement some jointly agreed high-performance initiatives in 2017 is a concern to World Rugby, it has resulted in a small amount of conditional investment being withheld.
World Rugby’s support of all tier two unions is both financial and administrative and is delivered on a partnership basis with each union. World Rugby continues to support the SRU’s national men’s 15s and sevens high-performance programmes with a record £1.5 million in overall investment in 2017, specifically including:
• Directly funding all insurance costs for the national 15s players while on international duty to maintain the highest standards of player welfare
• Funding a training camp in London to provide valuable preparation ahead of the November tests
• Funding the travel costs of Samoa players and other countries
• Funding any flights between test matches and all on-the ground expenses when playing against another tier two country or participating in World Rugby-organised tournaments
World Rugby can clarify that the union is not bankrupt and would also like to clarify the inaccurate statements made by the SRU Chairman relating to the selection of the national men’s 15s team coach.
World Rugby did not interfere with the recruitment and selection process. A clear and transparent process was agreed by all parties. However, the union did not wish to accept the recommendation of the independently chaired selection panel, which included SRU representatives. The SRU board decided to make its own appointment.
Therefore, World Rugby withdrew the funding allocated to this position but continues to honour its funding commitments for 2017 in line with the high-performance funding agreement.
World Rugby’s support extends further than just financial commitments. It is working in partnership with Pacific Rugby Players (the official IRPA-affiliated body representing Pacific Island players) to implement personal development, player welfare and other important initiatives to support Pacific Island players all over the world.
World Rugby remains committed to supporting all Pacific Island unions in achieving their potential on and off the field and applauds the excellent progress made by the Fiji Rugby Union since implementing key governance and administrative reforms which are delivering significant positive results for the union.