24 Aug 2015

Sport: Samoa Rugby Union, players sign historic agreement

12:46 pm on 24 August 2015

The Samoa Rugby Union and players' collective have signed an historic agreement, setting out their desire and willinging to work together moving forward in the interests of Samoan Rugby.

The agreement is a first between a Tier 2 union and it's elite players, with both parties committing to increased communication, transparency and consultation on issues that affect players.

There will also be certainty for players regarding assembly fees for camps and games.

SRU Chief Executive Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai says it shows that the union and players both want Samoa Rugby to be the best it can be and for the players to feel strongly committed to contributing to that.

Josh Blackie from the International Rugby and Pacific Islands Players Association says months of work went into the agreement and they have been impressed by how the SRU's new leadership helped to make negotiations successful.

"We did a lot of work on probably clarifying both parties expectations around that whole process and how we thought it could look, in a perfect sense, and then work back from there to make sure that we could establish an enviroment that had transparancy and people were accountable to each other, around a recorded set of objectives. It's a starting point and gives us something to review at the end of this year and hopefully we will keep building on it for the years to come".

Josh Blackie from the International Rugby Players' Association.

Josh Blackie from the International Rugby Players' Association. Photo: Photosport

The Manu Samoa team threatened to boycott a test match against England in November over concerns about the governance and management of the SRU.

The Manu Samoa team threatened to boycott a test match against England in November over concerns about the governance and management of the SRU.

Since then a new CEO, General Manager and High Performance Manager have been appointed.

The Union also committed to implementing governance, management and financial reforms, recommended in an independent review.

Josh Blackie says the Samoan rugby environment is unique, with most players based offshore, and it's important all parties respect each other and work together.

"If there's no respect between the parties it's going to affect performance and obviously it's going to affect the whole brand of the federation or the players as well. That's probably the starting point - is just having a respectful partnership between the players and union - so that everyone can get on and concentrate on what's important, rather than worrying about backroom stuff".

Jack Lam playing for Samoa against Ireland in 2013.

Jack Lam playing for Samoa against Ireland in 2013. Photo: Photosport

Manu Samoa flanker and Pacific Island Players Association board member Jack Lam says the players were grateful to the SRU for their constructive dialogue over the past eight months, and for the support of World Rugby and the International Rugby Players Association.

He says it's important that everyone involved with Manu Samoa has a shared understanding of what they want to achieve on and off the field.

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