The Lakapi Samoa Board has decided to move the Manu Samoa 7’s Team out of Dubai where they have been in a holding camp for seven weeks.

The decision is in response to the player’s complaints against management which was submitted to the Pacific Rugby Players Association and Lakapi Samoa.

“The welfare of the team, both players and management was the focus of an inquiry conducted over the past few days by a Board appointed Sub-Committee that included a players representative,” said Lakapi Samoa’s statement.

“Factors such as contracting covid-19, missing out on the two HSBC Series legs in Spain and the duration of the campaign being too long in Dubai, were all highlighted by the Board Sub-Committee as having contributed to the issues that arose. These areas were compounded by miscommunication and differences in expectations,” said the Lakapi Samoa statement.
Since training in Dubai, the team had not played a tournament as the team pulled out of the first of two HSBC Events in Malaga, Spain on 22 January after 13 players and 2 of the Management team returned positive test results from the mandatory PRC-tests conducted.

In its statement, “The Lakapi Samoa Board have decided that the Manu Samoa 7’s team will relocate to Australia, and continue to maintain training & conditioning programmes while they are there.

“Subject to Government of Samoa SOE border restrictions, the team are unable to return to home due to the six-month travel ban for those who have contracted covid-19.”

Lakapi Samoa Vice Chairman, Afamasaga Rico Tupai said Lakapi Samoa respects the Government’s 6-month border control restriction and added this also presents a perfect opportunity for the Manu Samoa 7’s to train in a different environment, that is more conducive to home.

“Rugby is secondary,” said Afamasaga, “but the main concern for us is the welfare of the team, both players and management, during these uncertain times”.

“In Australia, the team will be surrounded by the support of relatives and Samoan communities, and we feel that would go a long way to re-settle them following the recent events,” he added.

Lakapi Samoa has also accepted the request by five overseas-based players to leave the camp.

Lakapi Samoa acknowledged that most of the issues raised were ironed out in the interim. The remaining issues will be considered at the Union’s usual Post Campaign Review Process.

“We thank the families of our players and management for their patience and ongoing support. We do acknowledge the sacrifice your sons, husbands and fathers are making to represent Samoa,” said Afamasaga.

Lakapi Samoa has worked closely with World Rugby and the Pacific Rugby Players Association in the past week, and acknowledge their support, not only in this process but ongoing.

In closing, the Lakapi Samoa Board expressed their sincere appreciation to the community of Samoa diaspora in Dubai.

“Your unconditional support towards our Manu Samoa 7’s team since their arrival is appreciated, and we thank you,” said the Vice-Chair.