‘Both teams wanted to play’ – World Rugby defends pitch decision in Samoa

WORLD RUGBY SAYS the pitch at Apia Park passed a routine pre-game inspection before Samoa and Tonga’s Pacific Nations Cup clash at the venue last Saturday.

The global governing body has come under fire from some quarters after Samoa’s win over Tonga was played in dire weather conditions, with water pooling in some sections of the pitch.

Tonga centre Cooper Vuna and second row Sam Lousi have both taken to social media since the game to express their frustrations at what became something of a mudbath.

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“Shoutout to World Rugby for signing off the field for us to play on today,” wrote Lousi, who has signed for Pro14 side Scarlets ahead of the new season, on Twitter.

“Please World Rugby, enlighten us all on what processes you took to allow this game to go ahead? My question is – if a Tier 1 team was to play that day, would the game still go on?” added Vuna.

However, World Rugby says both Samoa and Tonga wanted to play the fixture last weekend even after poor recent weather in the Samoa capital city of Apia. 

The governing body says the surface was inspected before kick-off, as is the case for every Test match, and was deemed to be playable.

“While the conditions in Apia were not ideal owing to adverse weather in recent days, the pitch was deemed playable before the match via the usual match official inspection process and both teams wanted to play the game,” said World Rugby in a statement to The42.

Samoa – who will face Ireland in Pool A of the World Cup – managed the conditions better in Apia, beating their Pacific Island rivals 25-17.

Wing pair Belgium Tuatagaloa and Alapati Leiua, and number eight Afa Amosa scored tries, while debutant out-half UJ Seuteni kicked 10 points off the tee for Steve Jackson’s side.

Meanwhile, the US opened their Pacific Nations Cup campaign with a dominant win over Canada, while Japan – also part of Ireland’s pool at the World Cup – saw off Fiji.

The PNC continues this coming Saturday as Samoa take on the US, Fiji host Canada and Tonga visit Japan.

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