Sport: Former Samoa lock to meet with World Rugby CEO
Former Manu Samoa international Daniel Leo will meet World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper this week to discuss a number of concerns held by tier two nations.
Former Manu Samoa international Daniel Leo will meet World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper this week [Wednesday UK time] to discuss a number of concerns held by tier two nations.
Leo was among a group of senior players that demanded change in the governance and management of Samoan rugby late last year, with those reforms currently ongoing.
The 42-test veteran has been among a number of rugby voices to speak out about inconsistencies in the judiciary system at the World Cup and the uneven distribution of funds between tier one and tier two countries.
He told Vinnie Wylie there's a number of issues that need to be addressed.
DANIEL LEO: World Rugby's commercial model is one of them that's at the top of the list. The fact that tier one nations get 7.5 million pounds of World Cup profits each and the tier two nations get 150,000, which doesn't leave much wiggle-room for player payments and that sort of stuff. I know a lot of the Samoan boys actually were out of pocket during the World Cup, by the time you fly your families over and put them up in hotels, which is [during] a really expensive time of the year being a world cup and being a major event. I know the dignitaries are an important part of the game but they've flown over in business class and put up in fancy five-star hotels while the players are struggling to make ends meet. It's a question of where the balance is really. The second thing I'll be discussing with him is some of the judicial interpretations, which have somewhat tarnished what I think has been an amazing competition so far. From a tier two perspective it feels like a lot of the rub of the green hasn't gone our way. You saw a couple of weeks ago with the [Alesana] Tuilagi ban getting five weeks [later reduced to two on appeal] for effectively running hard at the defender and then you get a blatant shoulder charge clearing out a ruck with Michael Hooper - which was a one week ban - then Sean O'Brien blatantly punching the guy and [getting only] a one week ban. So [there's] a bit of disparity there as well so lots of things to talk about, and the Fijian situation with the set-ups of the French academies in Fiji, which are effectively poaching players from Fiji to France for next to no money. [There are] quite a lot of issues [and] none of them bode well for Pacific Island rugby, or tier two rugby really.
VINNIE WYLIE: If nothing else it's a good step that he [Brett Gosper] has actually been willing to take a meeting and sit down with you - that's a sign of being willing to engage on the issues?
DL: It is and meeting Brett is not a witch-hunt, it's not about pointing the finger and laying blame. It's just about highlighting the issues - some of the issues we probably won't have time to talk about them all - and working out a way forward. There's a lot to say for the players working in unison: having a voice and having a say on how the game develops. Big ups to Brett Gosper really for enabling me to have however much of a time to meet and discuss some of these issues.
VW: When it comes down to it all of those issues are kind of a matter of inequality or not an even playing field in many ways.
DL: Exactly. One of the other hot topics at the moment - as the players see as one of the solutions - is having more tier one visitations to the Pacific. We saw the All Blacks come [to Samoa] this year and it was great. The occasion was massive - not only for rugby but for the whole entire nation - and it has a knock-on effect right through the economy.
VW: Do you believe there is a willingness from World Rugby and perhaps some of the bigger nations to even the playing field somewhat?
DL: There is an underlying feeling tier two nations have been hard done by. Part of meeting with Brett is I'm pretty sure that he's well aware of all of these issues - it's about hopefully coming to a conclusion about how we can move forward and hopefully change the way the game is run but also change some of the perspectives that tier two nations have on the way that they're treated.
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