Samoa PM defends SRU on World Rugby stoush



tafuaSamoa’s Prime Minister has defended the appointment of the Manu Samoa head coach against the wishes of World Rugby.

Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua was awarded the job in September following the resignation of Namulauulu Alama Ieremia.

RNZ Pacific understands Fuimaono was ranked last of the seven shortlisted candidates interviewed by an independent panel.

But the SRU Board, of which Fuimoano was a member, opted to appoint him to a second stint in charge, despite the panel recommending another candidate.

In an interview with government newspaper Savali, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also the SRU Chair, said the panel overlooked the fact Fuimaono was the best applicant in terms of performance.

“Fuimaono was our head coach when Manu Samoa beat the Wallabies in 2011. The Wallabies then was one of the top two tier one teams in the world,” he said.

“Sponsorships and good performances on the field are closely related. Which is why we are especially preoccupied with coaches who produce good results on the field.”

“From the communications with World Rugby, their view is that the SRU should only be a rubber stamp. That is to approve whatever a sub-committee recommends. We disagreed.

“Indeed we attach importance to coach performance on the field. In a small country where rugby is popular, the public is most vocal when its rugby team does not perform.

“And the Board has to bear all the bad publicity from the fans. We are answerable to our public and sponsors who fund over 60 percent of our Budget.”

Tuilaepa said a World Rugby representative was a part of the interview panel.

“I would say in my years as Chairman, about 95 percent of the panellists’ recommendations are accepted by the Board – only in exceptional circumstances that the recommendations are not accepted,” he said.

“Many of our players do not fully understand the coaches’ directives in English. Some of our expatriate appointees by the World Rugby do not fully appreciate cultural practices of our players which by tradition generate greater mental preparation for our players.

“That is why the Board recommends other management appointees who are locals to help out. There are many negative feedbacks that the Board has to try and resolve on many cultural matters beyond the understanding of World Rugby officials.”

Last week the Prime Minister declared the Samoa Rugby Union was bankrupt and unable to pay players’ wages or pay off their debts.

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