The issues raised by the Manu Samoa players against the Management “were ironed out in the interim” which promoted actions by the Lakapi Samoa to move the Manu Samoa 7’s Team out of Dubai where they have been in camp for seven weeks.

Five players have opted to leave camp.

This is outlined in a statement issued by the Lakapi Samoa Saturday morning as a result of the report by Sub-Committee appointed by the Board to investigate allegations by the players of mistreatment and bullying in a letter to the Pacific Rugby Players Association.

The Lakapi Samoa says 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.

“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.”

As first reported by Radio Polynesia last Saturday, the players wrote to the Pacific Players Association, indicating that thirteen 13 players contracted COVID-19 shortly after arriving in Dubai which in their opinion was completely avoidable.

The players in their letter expressed concerns that after arriving in Dubai, the Management in between intense training sessions, made them visit highly populated public places for example local malls rather than keeping them safe.

“More concerning was having the choice and forcing us to visit places where the likelihood of contracting the virus was imminent.” This has ultimately led to them missing out on playing in Spain.

“During the time we were COVID positive after only several days of arriving into camp in Dubai, we were placed into isolation with no support, close to zero communication from management and very limited food and water.”

The letter says that when some of the players decided to order in food, these were allegedly intercepted by management and either eaten by them or discarded.

“We were then sent messages from management calling us players “ungrateful” “no sacrifice” and “unworthy”. Furthermore some of the players were allegedly forced to perform for the Dubai Expo held earlier this coming.

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

“Subject to Government of Samoa [State of Emergency Orders] border restrictions, the team are unable to return to home due to the six-month travel ban for those who have contracted COVID-19.

“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.

“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.”

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