APIA:12 2009 – The Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) today extended a warm welcome to the visit by NZ’s Minister for Sports and Recreation, Hon Murray McCully, also the Minister for the Rugby World Cup 2011. This is against the backdrop of comments by controversial Irish billionaire, Dennis Obrien accusing New Zealand rugby of being “bullies” and “pinching” Samoan rugby players.
“Hon. McCully’s visit to our rugby facility is very timely. The opportunity has allowed us to reinvigorate rugby ties between our two nations and the new government. The Samoa Rugby Union’s intention is simple, we aim to forge stronger and closer relations with NZ into the future—and that includes the Rugby World Cup 2011”, says CEO, Su’a Peter Schuster.
Rugby is a professional game and players move to places and clubs that reward them financially. Samoa players that move freely to NZ bring economic rewards to their family and country.
In answer to media queries regarding allegations of New Zealand bullying Samoa rugby, Su’a Peter Schuster stated, “Mr O’Brien’s company Digicel is one of the sponsors of the Samoa Rugby Union however, the SRU does not accept the description by Mr O’Brien of its relationship with the
NZ Rugby Union (NZRU) as one where it is being bullied by the NZRU.” Samoa has benefited from its players based in NZ as well as from technical assistance provided
by the NZRU.
“Right now we’re looking to New Zealand and Australia for a Technical Advisor to the Manu Samoa team. Already on board is Mr Dave Edgar, as the Manu Samoa Trainer recently recruited from the Waikato Chiefs franchise”, added Su’a Schuster.
“Samoan rugby cherishes its long-standing relationship with New Zealand. We are grateful not only to the sporting assistance provided by New Zealand but also to the extensive assistance it provides to many other sectors of our community and the Pacific region as a whole.”
The visit by Hon McCully took in the High Performance Unit (HPU) at Alafua and the 36-acre site for the new HPU Centre for elite rugby development at the National Sports Complex at Tuana’imato.
“We have a very positive and enduring relationship with New Zealand that goes back many decades. Many of our families have benefited through NZ’s education and sporting system. It’s a place where we have not just sporting ties, it’s a place of strong cultural and family identity”, concluded Su’a Schuster.