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$204k 'goodwill pledge'

The Independent
Friday, November 10, 2017

LONDON - The Rugby Football Union will make a goodwill payment of £75,000 ($F204,000) to the Samoan Rugby Union after it was declared bankrupt on Wednesday, with the Samoa prime minister holding a radiothon all day in an attempt to generate donations.

Samoa is scheduled to face Scotland this weekend and England in three weeks' in the autumn internationals.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao is the chairman of the SRU.

The shortage of money among the Pacific Islands - in particular Samoa - has been common knowledge, yet little has been done to help filter the large amounts of money that are in the game down to the smaller tier two nations.

World Rugby has been urged to carry out a review into the governance of the SRU, but as yet have not taken any action.

The RFU confirmed on Wednesday that they will offer a "goodwill gesture" of £75,000 to Samoa - the same as what they offered Fiji last year - as well as cover all over their costs while they are in London, with the Scotland Rugby Union also set to cover costs.

However, the offer less than 10 per cent of what the RFU generate from home Tests at Twickenham, with a sum of around £10m ($F27m) generated whenever England play at home.

Speaking to Samoa Observer, Sailele Malielegao said: "We are bankrupt. In other words we are insolvent. It means the union cannot continue to pay off our debts with the banks. We also need money to pay the players so they can continue to play."

Samoa has played at every Rugby World Cup bar the inaugural tournament in 1987, and reached the quart-finals at their first two attempts in 1991 and 1995.

However, the Pacific Islands have been somewhat depleted of its best talent over the last two decades as improving developments in travel and emigration have meant that a number of fledgling players have ended up representing New Zealand or Australia, having moved to the Antipodes for club rugby reasons.

As such, results have dropped off in recent times, and having pushed England close at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, Samoa have experienced pool stage exits at every global tournament since.

Former Samoa international Daniel Leo, who has since taken up a leading role as program director at the recently-formed Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, labelled it a "dark day for the rugby world", but confirmed that the PRPW is working on setting up a process that will enable fans to help save the future of Samoan rugby.

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