Wellington - World Rugby on Tuesday dismissed as "inaccurate" claims from Samoa's prime minister that the sport is bankrupt in the Pacific nation and the
governing body interfered in coach selection.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also
chairperson of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU), outlined the sport's financial woes
earlier this month, laying the blame on World Rugby.
Appealing for public donations, Malielegaoi said the SRU was
bankrupt and could not afford to pay player wages or insurance premiums.
World Rugby, which has previously said there were governance
issues at the SRU, disputed the claims.
"World Rugby can clarify that the union is not
bankrupt," the organisation said in a statement, adding that it directly
funded the touring Samoa team's insurance costs.
It also took issue with Malielegaoi's version of events
surrounding the appointment of coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua in September.
He said World Rugby was intent on appointing its own candidate
and cut funding for the coach's position in retaliation when the SRU refused to
World Rugby said an independent panel made recommendations
about who should be coach but the SRU decided to go its own way and appoint
Tafua was in charge during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when
the extent of the problems facing the SRU began to emerge.
A report penned by former national captain Mahonri Schwalger
after the tournament accused management of being unprofessional and treating
the event like a holiday.
Then in 2014, players threatened to boycott Samoa's Test
against England at Twickenham due to lack of financial transparency and poor
treatment by management.
At the time, Malielegaoi dismissed the player complaints as
the "opinions of little kids".
Samoa will seek the first win of their current tour against
England on Saturday after losing 44-38 to Scotland and 17-13 to Romania.
Ahead of the match at Twickenham, England's Rugby Football
Union agreed to make a $75 000 goodwill payment to the SRU.