Something doesn’t make sense about Hilton’s resignation

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Another one bites the dust. Indeed and so the revolving door for coaches and senior officials at the Samoa Rugby Union continues to spin uncontrollably. 

Only a few months after the most recent embarrassing public spat over the sacking of the man who helped to get the Manu Samoa to the World Cup, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, another senior official has called it quits. 

This time, the General Manager of the Samoa Rugby Union’s High Performance Unit, Zane Hilton, a man who ironically would’ve played a key part in the decision against Fuimaono, has quit. To be honest, his resignation comes as a shock. We say this because it wasn’t that long ago that Mr. Hilton arrived with all guns blazing, and all these wonderful ideas to try and revive the fortunes of Samoan rugby.

From the outset, he came across as very genuine in his desire to make a big difference.

 “We got some great people, great coaches across the programme,” he told this newspaper in his first interview. “It’s just about getting structure and really trying to identify what it is that Samoa rugby are good at, what are we known for because I think we can all appreciate our performances are not where we want them.”

 “We’re all about transparency here and I’ve made sure that everything is transparent, we appreciate that the community and the country are hurting because of our performances, and we know that we need to improve and that starts here and that’s what I’m here to do.”

Well that was at the beginning of 2018. So how did Mr. Hilton fare?

From then until now, the only notable positive in terms of results for Samoan rugby is the fact that the Manu Samoa has qualified for the World Cup, beating Germany. Yes Germany people. The Manu Samoa Sevens has been inconsistent and that’s about all you can say really.

Now after all those big plans, Mr. Hilton is walking away. 

“I am formally writing to inform you of my resignation from the role of General Manager of High Performance for the Samoa Rugby Union effective immediately,” his two-paragraph resignation letter said.

 “I would like to wish the Samoa Rugby Union and the Manu Samoa in particular all the best for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan. It was an honour to work with this team.” 

Really? An honour? If it’s such an honour, why is Mr. Hilton quitting so soon? Which is perhaps the million-tala question today. If everything was roses, why the abrupt resignation?

Now the Chief Executive Officer of S.R.U., Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai, has wished Mr. Hilton the best, adding that he has resigned because he has found employment elsewhere.

 “Mr. Hilton is going back to his coaching job, that’s all I can say. He is probably in the process of negotiating with his other employers at the moment,” Faleomavaega said. 

The same line is being repeated by Prime Minister Tuilaepa, who is the Chairman of S.R.U. today.

“He has probably been given other offers,” Tuilaepa said. “Right now when it comes to these kinds of roles, the salaries are quite significant. So we don’t know if he had only just started here when he got a bigger offer from somewhere else.”

Ladies and gentlemen, something doesn’t quite add up here. Here’s the thing, if Mr. Hilton had signed a contract with the S.R.U. for a certain amount of time, why would he suddenly decide to quit? Besides, from our standpoint, Mr. Hilton sounded like someone who came to Samoa genuinely believing that he could make a difference. It doesn’t make sense that he would suddenly quit.

The obvious question is why. Contacted by the Samoa Observer in a bid to answer this very question, Mr. Hilton declined, referring all questions back to S.R.U.

“While I know there will be disappointments, I want to thank S.R.U. and Manu Samoa in particular, whom I’ve had the honour of working with over the last 12 months,” he is quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Union. “I wish them all the best for the upcoming World Cup.”

Something just doesn’t make sense in all of this. Stay tuned!

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