The strictest of COVID-19 regulations in Samoa have been causing problems for the country’s international rugby teams all year.
Manu Samoa’s recent tour of the northern hemisphere was abandoned, apart from one game against the Barbarians in London, only for that to be scrapped too, at the very last minute, when several of the opposition players tested positive for coronavirus.
Since then the World Rugby Sevens Series has kicked off with two rounds in Dubai, but Samoa was absent from both, so the team has been out of action since the Olympic repechage played in Monaco in June.
However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, although the plan Lakapi Samoa have in mind will be tough for everyone involved.
Chief Executive Vincent Fepuleai has told Pacific Beat the union has put in a request to the government to allow the team to participate in the last eight legs of the current world series, by setting up a temporary base in Dubai for three months.
Coach Brian Lima believes it’s the only workable option, as the alternative of flying to and from Samoa for tournaments, even with the government’s permission, would mean prolonged periods of quarantine and no time to train.
If the Dubai plan is approved it will be tough on the players who will have to spend months away from family and home, but Coach Lima has left the final decision in the players’ hands.
“So it’s up to them to come up with a decision that’s good for them and their families.”
CEO Vincent Fepuleai is quietly confident of a positive response from the government because without it he has warned that the team’s status among the world’s sevens elite could be in jeopardy.
“There is a huge consequence for us in the future, if we do not attend the tournaments, as such, over the next couple of legs.”
Brian Lima is also confident that the Dubai plan will get the all-clear, and he expects all the players in his squad will put their hands up to go.
“The players are really keen to go, they’ve been waiting for this opportunity after long days and weeks of training. You know our players are all new at this level, and it’s a good exposure for them to go and play and test themselves at this level, said Lima.