Charlie Taylor is one Samoan youngster who showed his promise in Wellington last weekend. Photo: Getty Images
BY Lance Polu
APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 02 FEBRUARY 2017: The Samoa Rugby Union has already looked at hosting a leg of the World Sevens series accented by poor spectator numbers in last weekend’s Wellington Sevens.
SRU Chairman, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who earlier this week signed an agreement with the Auckland Blues to play their “home game” against the Reds 02 June at the Apia Park, says hosting a world series leg has already been looked at by the Samoa Rugby Union.
“But these things are controlled by IRB but we will try,” he told Samoa FM Radio in his weekly interview An Hour with the Prime Minister.
He also criticized the New Zealand Rugby Unions attitude to Sevens as a contributing factor to the loss in spectator interest and compounded by the loss of the New Zealand side and the Bliztboks decimation of Olympic gold medalists Fiji in the finals in Wellington last weekend.
Tuilaepa said the best players should have been availed by the NZRU to Sevens alluding to former New Zealand Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens ‘denied’ his gold at the Olympics.
“Sevens is a very exciting sport to watch. But they always place the emphasis on 15’s.”
Asked about his own teams’ performance who were winless on the first day in Wellington and settled for 13th overall after beating Papua New Guinea and Russia, he said the players lacked mental strength and self-belief.
“I went down and spoke to the team on Sunday morning. I also spoke to Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens not to be discouraged and we saw the teams’ skills coming back on the last day,” he said. “I believe they will do much better in Sydney this weekend.”
Tuilaepa is confident, Samoa can host a sevens leg and can draw the crowd with a sizable number from neighbouring countries and the core followers of participating teams.
New Samoa Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens told Radio New Zealand today that now’s the time to take it to the islands.
“Would be a great tournament in Apia in Samoa. When we saw the success of the All Blacks fifteen a side game when they played Manu Samoa just last year. And of course if a Sevens tournament went to Apia it would be a sell-out.”
Tuilaepa again acknowledged the Auckland Blues decision to play in Apia in what he calls “their home game” as 15 of the players are of Samoan descent including Head Coach and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga.
“This is only the beginning of more come,” he says.
Other than SRU’s interest in hosting a World Series Sevens leg, the Marist St. Josephs Sports Club with 29 years’ experience and history of hosting the Marist International Sevens in Apia has already researched the possibility of hosting the event in Apia.
Tuilaepa emphasized the need to develop Samoa’s tourism industry hence capitalizing on every opportunity to promote Samoa overseas and draw quality events to be hosted in Samoa.