Samoa promise to play England

2014-11-17 20:25
Samoa (AFP)

London - Samoa have insisted on Monday that the threat of a strike which would have led to Saturday's international against England at Twickenham being called off had been abandoned and that the match would proceed as scheduled.

Disgruntled players had indicated they could boycott the match as a protest against the way the Samoa Rugby Union was run, leading to mediation from both the International Rugby Board and the International Rugby Players' Association.

"The game is proceeding as agreed upon," Samoa team manager Sami Leoti Britain's national Press Association news agency.

"There is no threat and the boycott has been cancelled. It's all been sorted."

Last week, the Samoa players' unhappiness became public knowledge when, following a report in Britain's Rugby Paper, the IRB released a statement saying they had been made aware of the Pacific Islanders' concerns last month.

However, the IRB also said they expected the match, the third of England's four home internationals in November, to go ahead as planned.

"The players met with the IRB and the players' association and as a result of those discussions the boycott was called off," Leoti said.

"Now the idea is to keep the camp tight and focus on the game," he added.

- Enough is enough -

Earlier, Samoa's senior internationals called for their concerns -- some of which date back to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand -- to be dealt with urgently "to ensure positive change for the benefit of Samoa rugby".

The Samoa Observer said in an editorial that the grievances included an alleged lack of financial transparency within the Samoa Rugby Union with players being expected to pay air fares, coaches being denied a free-rein on selection and team line-ups being announced on social media before players had been notified.

Samoa, the top performing Pacific island nation and twice World Cup quarter-finalists, have in recent years recorded wins against top-tier countries such as Australia, Wales and Scotland.

Members of the Samoa team who beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, north-west France, last Saturday met with the IRB and the IRPA over the weekend but the SRU chose not to be represented at the talks.

The players "are now asking the SRU to commit to meaningful communication and discussion on the issues with all parties", the IRPA said in a statement Monday.

Mahonri Schwalger, who captained Samoa at the 2011 World Cup, was axed from the side a year later when he wrote a damning assessment of the management in a report to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

Following the weekend meeting, Samoa forward Daniel Leo said the players have had to "endure these ongoing issues for far too long".

"This is about us, the players deciding enough is enough, and seeking positive change and input for the benefit of Samoan rugby and the welfare of future players."

Meanwhile Tuilaepa called the issues "opinions of little kids" and suggested the cream of Samoan rugby pull out if they are not happy.

"If they don't want to play then don't come. There are many players here who are looking for an opportunity. We're not forcing you. So submit your resignation and we'll select new players," he said last week.

Saturday's match is Samoa's final fixture of a European tour that started with a 24-13 defeat by Italy before the win over the Canada.

Read more on:    rugby

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