“No school before” and the biggest laui’a* of them all

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Well Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has spoken. 

If the Manu Samoa Sevens players want to argue about the “no school before” comment, which was aimed at them, there is only one way to go about it: Win a tournament and prove Tuilaepa wrong. No ifs, no buts. 

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it, except it is not that simple given what we’ve seen from this team recently.

Take for example the horrible form in Hong Kong and at the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games. We don’t need to tell you anymore about what happened. Suffice to say, that’s what ticked off Prime Minister Tuilaepa so that he did not hold back in his criticisms.

“It is not the coach,” Tuilaepa said then.  “This is solely the result of the players’ performance. Keep in mind some of the players were not educated properly. 

 “Looking at players from Africa and Britain, if you ask about their educational backgrounds, you will find that they attend universities. 

 “But what about our players? Well that is the struggle faced by the coach given that our players, some of whom did not reach standard four.”

At the time, Tuilaepa called on the country to be patient with the team. He was especially concerned that the coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens might become discouraged by all the criticisms and leave.

 “Keep in mind, he is one of the most highly qualified Coaches in the world of rugby and holds countless winning records. I just pray the Coach will not give up on our team,” said Tuilaepa.  

 “I’m worried the Coach may say that his reputation in New Zealand has been tarnished with results of players who are not well educated.”

Now take it from me and just about anyone who dares to question Tuilaepa’s administration. We’ve been called all sorts of names ranging from “idiots”, “fools”, “kids” and other personal and hurtful descriptions. Elsewhere, terms like “stinking pigs” and “dogs” have been used openly by the Prime Minister to refer to people. 

But we are used to it. You see you have to develop an ultra thick skin to be able to laugh it off and do what must be done. 

You can’t say the same for those poor Sevens players who were probably not prepared for this level of scrutiny, and perhaps not used to being ridiculed in such a way, coming from the nation’s leader. Which is understandable. 

So they made their frustrations and unhappiness known to Prime Minister Tuilaepa. In most cases, you’d expect at least an apology or something to soothe the pain. 

Not in Samoa. The players got nothing of the sort.

“I told them that if they didn’t like what I said, then go and win a tournament and prove me wrong,” Tuilaepa said. “I said to them that if they continue to play badly, what am I supposed to tell the country? They don’t expect me to keep making up nonsense to excuse their poor performance so they have to start winning.”

He added that the current crop of Sevens players have no excuse for their form.

He said they are now contracted Sevens players which means they are getting paid. This is much better than the conditions under which previous teams played and yet they still went on to win tournaments – including a World Rugby Sevens title. 

Tuilaepa has a point about this but that was a long time ago and times have changed. 

Now think about this for a minute. 

All these stinging criticisms and hurtful words directed at these poor players are coming from the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, the body that has been lording over the sport while the results have slowly but surely deteriorated over the years. 

Now if the poor results is the fault of “no school before” players, where does that leave the “laui’a” sitting at the top of the decision making table at the Samoa Rugby Union? 

Even with his mountain of qualifications, is he not responsible too? Doesn’t the buck stop with him? 

And suppose that Samoan rugby is one body, why is the head telling the legs they are stupid and uneducated? 

Don’t the legs naturally follow the leading of the head? Or is there a different law in Samoa where the head and legs take different directions? 

Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

 

*laui’a is a Samoan word used to describe a big fish 


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