Sir Graham Henry keeps distance from IRB/Samoa conflict

Unumoe Esera

, Local, Sports

Sir Graham Henry, Victor Vito and the Cup in Apia with the New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley and his partner

By Unumoe Esera

APIA: Monday 23 July 2012: The All Blacks 2011 Rugby World Cup winning Coach, Sir Graham Henry successfully evaded the media questions on the Samoa Rugby Union and the International Rugby Union.

Sir Graham arrived this morning accompanied by Leaupepe Victor Vito and the Webb Ellis Cup for a two day tour that included a parade along Beach Road this afternoon and coaching clinics in the morning.

Talamua raised the question of what he thinks should be done for small island nations rugby given the treatment by the IRB.

“I don’t know or understand the treatment the IRB is giving the small nations all I know is a lot of materials were coming out of the Rugby World Cup about rules and coaching equipment. I think the Prime Minister had a statement about the referee didn’t he? I think we can all make statements about referees from time to time. I’m sure he was correct at the time.”

“I think generally speaking Samoa should be very proud of what they are doing in rugby. They are very good at the Sevens circuit and I’m sure they will continue to play well. They are a force in the 15s circuit as well with a limited number of players to choose from.

“I think they should be proud of what they have achieved and I’m sure they will continue to play well. I hope they go from strength to strength as the years go by,” he said.

The Cup’s tour of Samoa – almost a year after the All Blacks won it by beating France in the finals by one point, has been diplomatically connected to the celebration of Samoa’s 50th year of independence.

As well, to celebrate 50 years of the Treaty of Friendship between Samoa and New Zealand (1 August 2012) that is “governed by a spirit of close friendship”.

“It was in October last year it’s now July. We were trying to combine the 50th Anniversary of Independence and bringing the Rugby World Cup. I think they just coincide,” said Sir Graham.

“The Treaty of Friendship was another thing for New Zealand. For New Zealand it was a big thing getting the Cup back into our hands. This means a lot to us. It’s commemorating the 50th Anniversary and the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa

The Prime Minister & Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, a vocal critic of the IRB with Victor Vito and the Cup

“We thought we might as well bring one of our treasured moments in our recent history and show to inspire and motivate you guys on to greater things. If you want to win the World Cup, well its here hopefully it’s not as close as Samoa will ever get, it’s just a bit of inspiration from what we have experienced,” said Leaupepe Victor Vito.

The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi expressed thanks for this special visit.

“It is with much pleasure that I extend to you Sir Graham Henry and members of your team a very warm welcome to Samoa. On behalf of the Government, our people and Samoa Rugby Union to express our sincere appreciation to you, New Zealand Rugby Union and New Zealand Government for the very generous and thoughtful gesture of bringing to Samoa the William Webb Ellis trophy in this year of Samoa’s 50th Independence,” he said.

The All Blacks to play in Samoa?

So is it well past time that the All Blacks come to play against the Manu Samoa in Samoa as he has been associated with many rugby players of Samoan descent that have played for the All Blacks?

“All I can do is pass on the request. I understand the request and I can understand why you’re asking that question. All I can do is pass on to the CEO, Steve Tew the request of the Samoan people for the All Blacks to come and play here,” said Sir Graham.

Sir Graham, the Webb Ellis Trophy and his entourage will be in Savaii for three hours Tuesday for selected schools and the public at the Salelologa commercial center.

The New Zealand High Commissioner and Westpac Bank are hosting a closing function in the evening before Sir Graham and the Cup returns to New Zealand on Wednesday morning.