“He’s an exemplary man,” said Sir Gordon Titjens, the Manu Samoa Sevens Coach of the late La’auli Alan Grey
Source: PRESS SECRETARIAT
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 06 APRIL 2018: Manu Samoa 7’s is dedicating its Hong Kong IRB 7s leg this weekend to the late La’auli Alan Grey.
They will be wearing black arm bands to honour La’auli celebrated as the man responsible for propelling Manu Samoa to the world stage single handedly.
“He’s an exemplary man,” are the compliments from Manu Samoa 7s Sir Gordon Titjens who attended La’auli’s funeral services last week with the Manu Samoa 7s players who performed the sivatau as a farewell gesture to one of Samoa’s greatest rugby icon.
“He has left behind a huge pair of shoes to fill and as the man responsible for taking Manu Samoa brand to the world, Samoa should be proud.”
La’auli’s personal contributions in business and sports did not go unnoticed as Government accorded him the highest accolades for his achievements and contribution with the Samoa Order of Merits award in 1993 after he retired from rugby.
La’auli was unique and one of a kind. One need only to ask Uaea Laki Apelu, one of the four elites along with La’auli Alan Grey, Piliopo Maia’i and Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale who orchestrated the rise of Manu Samoa from the ground in the late 1980s to where it is today.
La’auli was the single financer of the campaign to the 1991 World Cup that included financing all the qualification games and expenses covering travel and accommodation costs not to mention allowances for the players.
Apelu, Tuatagaloa and Mrs Maia’i were in charge of the logistics and it was no walk in the park with limited resources available.
And as the world witnessed first-hand, history was made in the 1991 World Cup with Samoa’s historic win over Wales.
It was the first time a seeded nation had lost to a non-seed in the competition and the first Wales defeat at the hands of the underrated Samoans.
Again in the 1995 World Cup, it was La’auli who single handedly financed the Samoa Rugby Union’s campaign.
“It was trying times for Samoa Rugby before it was rebranded as Manu Samoa,” recalls Apelu.
“But La’auli was never fazed, always patient, calm and committed. He remained true to his passion to lift Samoa Rugby to the next level.”
Back then, there was no hand out from the International Rugby Board now renamed as World Rugby. Corporate sponsorship from the business sector was scarce and government was not even on board to assist with the Union’s financial plight.
But La’auli marched on pouring his financial resources and his business Aggie Grey’s Hotel unselfishly to escalate Manu Samoa to become the darlings of world rugby.
That enormous debt along with La’auli’s personal and business sacrifices remain unpaid in full.
La’auli will be remembered as a humble, unassuming man, with a generous heart.
He has served as Union Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and Vice Chairman for close to 4 decades before he retired.
He is survived by his wife Marina and three children, daughters Aggie and Tanya and son Fred Grey.
And as Sir Gordon sums it up, La’auli’s passing is “a very sad day for Samoa.”