The Samoa Rugby Union is concerned a campaign by Pacific Rugby Players Welfare could damage their chances of gaining a seat on the World Rugby Council.
“Seats At The Table” is a new initiative seeking to highlight the fact that Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have no direct representation on the council, while Oceania Rugby, which represents 12 countries in the region, holds just two of the 48 votes.
Samoa Rugby Union CEO Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i said it understands that having a seat on the council is about meeting the World Rugby criteria and that is their focus.
“Dan Leo [and the team at Pacific Rugby Players Welfare] starting a social media campaign will not have any effect on whether we get a seat or not,” he said.
“In fact, if anything it could potentially only succeed in damaging the work that has gone into our application.”
World Rugby will meet in September to review all applications for World Rugby Council membership.
Faleomavaega said the increase in diversity on the SRU Board, following an overhaul of their constitution, are among many positives in Samoa’s bid for inclusion.
“We acknowledge that Dan being a former player of Manu Samoa has the best intentions when voicing his concerns, but the issue is his lack of knowledge of environment [in which] we operate, what positives are already happening and not having the true facts,” he said.
“In our daily operations we have challenges, yes, and we work positively in partnership with the players in the form of the Pacific Rugby Players Association, who are the official representatives of the all Samoa players from Academy to the Manu Samoa team.”
Pacific Rugby Players CEO Aayden Clarke was confident Samoa will get a seat on the World Rugby Council on their own merit but also praised the work PRPW have been doing in the Northern Hemisphere.
“They’ve done a great job in recent times to meet the criteria and we are confident that come September, World Rugby will positively recognise that,” he said.
“Anyone doing positive things to benefit Pacific Island rugby is fantastic. How Dan is running community events in the UK to get players together is nothing but good”.