(Source credit Duncan Johnstone www.stuff.co.nz)
A new sponsorship deal for Samoan Rugby has seen the national team offered a $1 million incentive if they win next year’s World Cup.
The sponsorship is part of a deal struck with Australian-based Cromwell Property Group and it means Samoan players stand to cash in if they have a successful tournament in the United Kingdom next year.
The Samoan team will be paid a $500,000 bonus if they make the final and $250,000 if they make the semifinals.
The general sponsorship is described as “significant” and should make this the best resourced Samoan team to contest a World Cup where they have featured regularly in the quarter-final stages.
Samoa’s long-serving Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele, who is also chairman of the Samoan Rugby Union, announced the deal in Auckland on Monday.
He described the sponsorship as “generous support for our brand of rugby and an incentive for our players to aim for the sky.”
He felt the incentive system for the business end of the World Cup would suit the mindset of Samoan players.
“We are entering an exciting, dynamic era for Samoan rugby,” Tuilaepa said.
“With initiatives like this sponsorship by Cromwell and the All Blacks test in Apia (next year), we are determined to put Samoa where it belongs – in the top ranks of world rugby and with a strong financial base to fund our development.
“I believe Samoan rugby will get on the road to meeting its true potential as well as fulfilling its expectations.
“Our history is about achieving the impossible despite the odds. We believe in our destiny and that is in our hands … despite some old world, fixed mindsets. We will always play a game to get respect.”
Tuilaepa will meet with NZR and All Blacks management in Wellington on Tuesday to nail down details on next year’s historic test in Samoa by the New Zealand national team.
Tuilaepa said playing regular matches, especially before major tournaments, was crucial to the development of Samoan rugby.
He also said the player eligibility loophole for sevens’ introduction to the Olympics would benefit Samoan rugby and that would have a spin-off to next year’s World Cup.
Samoa will unveil their new sevens recruits at the first tournament on the next world sevens series on the Gold Coast in Australia later this year. Former All Blacks Isaia Toeva and Rudi Wulf are tipped to make the switch.