No freehold lands for the World Sevens champions

Lolo Lui, Captain for Manu Sevens

APIA: 17 June 2010: There will be no government land to be gifted to the Manu Samoa World Sevens rugby champions despite recent suggestions in the media.

The Samoa Rugby Union Chairman and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said there has never been any official request to that effect despite a mention of the idea during the teams first press conference the day after their return from the IRB Series with the Cup and the overall series championship.

The PM said slightly over $0.5million was distributed amongst the players. This came from what $100,000 promised by the Government as its standard gift to any team that wins a World title, $100, 000 from SIFA, $100,000 from SamoaTel, Digicel and other companies and individuals that will all be listed in a public notice by the Samoa Rugby Union.

“Government has fulfilled all its promises to the team, not only money, but a national holiday and that their names and villages have been etched in history through a parliamentary motion and Hansard and the National Museum,” Tuilaepa said.

Tuilaepa also confirmed that he had been in contact with the Governor of American Samoa, Togiola Tulafono who has already extended an invitation to host the champions in American Samoa so they can pay their own tributes.

“We have agreed for the players to go over on 1 and 2 July, after the Pacific Nations Cup as some of the players are involved in the competition,” said Tuilaepa.

“It means they will be honoured with more monetary and gifts in kind over there,” he said.

On Tuesday this week, Tuilaepa said the Manu Samoa Sevens victory has united Samoa and American Samoa in a national sense of pride despite their political boundaries.

“It’s power that sports can have to bring national unity and pride despite political and social boundaries,” he said.

He was speaking during the launch of the role of sports in alleviating poverty as one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations to be achieved by 2015.

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