9 Nov 2017

BG distraught by Samoa Rugby Union's bankruptcy

11:35 am on 9 November 2017

Rugby legend Bryan Williams says he's distraught with the news that the Samoan Rugby Union is bankrupt.

Bryan Williams, April 2017.

Bryan Williams, April 2017. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Samoa's Prime Minister and Rugby Union chairman Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi made the announcement ahead of the national sides match against Scotland this weekend.

Williams, who played 38 Tests for the All Blacks, coached Samoa during the 90's, while both his sons played for Samoa.

Williams says the Samoan Union obviously has management issues, but their situation hasn't been helped by a lack of top rugby for their players.

"I'm not necessary saying there's not mismanagement I think that's reasonably well documented that there have been question marks about those areas, but it's certainly compounded by the fact that they're not able to generate good income because they're not involved in mainstream competitions."

"Obviously the income that comes from television rights and revenue and the resulting sponsorship that comes from exposure means that they operate from a huige disadvantage."

Williams says a start would be to get Samoa involved in SANZAAR competitions.

Tuilaepa made his comments in an interview with the Samoa Observer ahead of a local telephone fund-raising initiative.

"We are bankrupt," he said.

Blues coach Tana Umaga presents a team jersey to Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Blues coach Tana Umaga presents a team jersey to Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"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 play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday and England at Twickenham on Nov. 25.

Tuilaepa said there was no money to pay for player insurance and the head coach's salary.

Former Samoa international Daniel Leo said on Twitter that it was a "dark day for the rugby world".

Hosts are under no obligation to share gate receipts with visiting Test sides.

However, the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) will compensate Samoa to the tune of about $150,000.

All on-the-ground costs for visiting teams are also covered.

RFU chief executive Steve Brown told the BBC last month that the SRU had sought funding ahead of the tour and the English body would make a contribution.

The Samoa Observer in October quoted the SRU's annual report for 2016 as saying that the body was wrestling with a large overdraft after settling more than $1.4 million of debts in 2015.

-RNZ & Reuters