WELLINGTON (AFP) –
Dumped Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger has called for the Pacific nation’s prime minister to be replaced as chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) and hit out at “arrogant” rugby administrators.
Schwalger was dropped from the national side after writing a damning report criticising the team management’s conduct at last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, where an underperforming Samoa were eliminated in the pool phase.
Samoa coach Stephen Betham said the 33-year-old missed out because of his age but Schwalger, who has been in fine form with high-flying Super 15 outfit the Waikato Chiefs this season, believed it was because he was too outspoken.
He told the Waikato Times that although there had been some changes in SRU management, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s role as chairman was hampering wholesale reform.
“If you’re going to make changes you’ve got to make sure the top is also changed — the chairman (Malielegaoi),” he told the newspaper.
“It’s pretty disappointing because we’ve got our prime minister running it, and this must be the only country that has a prime minister involved in running the sport.
“So there are battles we can’t win, but as long as we get it out there and hopefully the IRB (International Rugby Board) can step in and help out.”
In his report, submitted to Malielegaoi after the World Cup, Schwalger said officials would disappear for days at a time, engaged in drinking binges at the team hotel and treated the tournament as a holiday.
The hooker said he knew speaking out would cost him his international career but he was disappointed senior players who had backed him, including Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Alesana Tuilagi, had also been axed.
Schwalger, who is immensely popular in his homeland, said rugby administrators in Samoa were looking after their own interests instead of the good of the game.
“It is pretty sad to see our rugby being controlled by these guys who are pretty arrogant about themselves and not worried about what is best for the future of Samoan rugby.” he said.
“I’m not going to stop. I’m going to still try my best to get rid of these guys. I’m not going to walk away.”