APIA: Samoa’s prime minister has fired stinging criticism at the national rugby union team, saying they “have no guts”, while also rubbishing Germany ahead of their crunch Rugby World Cup qualifier in Apia on Saturday.
After a disappointing run of defeats, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi turned up at training and told the players if they should quit if they can’t beat Germany, the Samoa Observer reported on Monday.
“You played 10 games and you lost in all of those 10 games, so what does that tell me? ‘You have no guts.’ That is what I said to them,” Malielegaoi said.
“I said, if you don’t win this game then you all have to resign from the team.”
The prime minister further insulted the players by telling them they keep dropping the ball because they are “afraid”.
Samoa need to beat Germany on aggregate at home this weekend and away two weeks later to complete Pool A at next year’s World Cup, which already includes Ireland, Russia, Scotland, and hosts Japan.
Later, during a weekly media session, the prime minister was calmer and predicted a Samoa win over Germany, who he said have “no knowledge whatsoever” about rugby.
“The reason being is because we have reached the very bottom and there is nowhere else for us to go except coming back up,” he said.
“They will be playing against the team that has no knowledge whatsoever on how to play rugby, so we must win this game.”
“And the other good thing about this is that when we win against Germany and make it through the World Cup, we will be in a good pool. So I would be very shocked if we don’t make it to the quarterfinal.”
Samoan captain Chris Vui said the fiery condemnation would only strengthen the determination of the side to extend their record of playing every World Cup since 1991.
“We will keep on going and we will keep on fighting because there is a future for this team,” he said.
“We do get battles from outside but as a family does, as a village does, we would stay tight as a team. We take the feedback and we take on that stuff and move on.”
Samoa have lost their last nine matches, including defeats by New Zealand, Wales, Scotland, and England in the past 12 months, as well as South Pacific neighbours Fiji and Tonga in the recent Pacific Nations Cup tournament.
Their last win was against Canada in November 2016.