9 Nov 2017

Sport: Fundraising drive boosts Samoa Rugby Union coffers

12:37 pm on 9 November 2017

The Samoa Rugby Union has raised almost $US140,000 from a fundraising radio and telethon held yesterday to address a financial crisis in the organisation.

SRU Chairman and Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, had urged the country to get behind their national team as he opened the national fundraiser, the first since 2011.

Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi in Wellington.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Photo: RNZ/ Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor

He told reporters this week that the governing body was "insolvent", with the union unable to "pay off our debts with the banks" or fund player wages.

The proceeds are expected to help meet insurance costs for the Manu Samoa players, who kick off their Northern Hemisphere tour against Scotland this weekend.

Manu Samoa players, including captain Kahn Fotuali'i (2L), react after their 78-0 thrashing by the All Blacks.

Money is tight in Samoan rugby. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The funds will also be used to pay the salary of Manu Samoa head coach, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, whose appointment is the subject of a disagreement between World Rugby and the SRU.

Revenue model ongoing bugbear for Pacific nations

Fiji rugby coach John McKee says funding is a constant challenge for Pacific Island nations and a fairer system is needed to provide a more equitable share of the profits from top level test matches.

England's Rugby Football Union has agreed to make a goodwill payment of almost $US100,000 to the Samoa Rugby Union after the association was declared bankrupt ahead of their November international campaign.

Last year the RFU offered Fiji the same "goodwill gesture" ahead of their Test at Twickenham, where a sold out ground can generate $US13,000,000 in revenue.

FRU Chairman Commander Francis Kean and Flying Fijians coach John McKee.

Fiji coach John McKee (R). Photo: Supplied / Fiji Rugby Union

Host Unions are under no obligation to share gate receipts with visiting teams and Fiji coach John McKee said it was an ongoing frustration.

"It's a little bit disappointing that under the host union agreement that we don't actually get some money from the home gate and the Rugby Football Union did make a payment to us last year which helped us in our pre-tour camp," he said.

"I'd hope going forward that (there can be changes) in the regulations of the game because we can't have things that the other tier ones do, with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

"When the tier one nations tour south they get big crowds and can charge a premium for tickets plus they have very good broadcast rights deals, which we don't get," he said.

"So we don't really make any money - actually to host a tier one team in Fiji actually costs us money because we can't recoup the money through the gate and when we don't have any TV rights.

"It's a challenge and it's one that we're working pretty hard to get ourselves on a good financial footing and it's very pleasing for us, with sponsorship being tight, the recent deal with Fiji Airways which is really beneficial to us and really helps the Flying Fijians and the sevens programmes remain competitive in international rugby."

John McKee said the Flying Fijians pre-tour camp in Toulouse last week cost one million dollars and was partially funded by the money they received from the RFU last year.