The recent All Blacks test match in Manu Samoa has left the hosts $1.5 million in debt, but who should be responsible and was it worth it?
It is easy to point the finger, but it is hard to know who should be responsible for the debt placed on the financially poor Pacific Island nation?
I was increasingly sceptical heading into the game, given the numbers didn't seem to add up, but I was pleased by how everyone embraced the game and it was a brilliant event for the people of Samoa. Things must change if this game is to become a permanent fixture, or if other Tier 1 nations will visit for full test matches.
Surely the hosts knew the costs of hosting such a test match and whether it was viable or not? It isn't a complete disaster losing money on an event, if the positive outcomes from the event will outweigh the original investment. Hopefully hosting the All Blacks will have increased the interest and player numbers in rugby for the future and potentially sales of Samoan rugby merchandise.
They need a bigger stadium for these games to be viable. Surely, having to shut down a third of the seating because of health and safety could have been avoided with adequate planning. 4000 of the 12000 seating capacity Apia Park was lost because of safety reasons, but imagine if those were available for $100 each, then that is $400,000, increase the stadium size and that will help. I am sure they could either expand Apia Park to a 20,000 seat stadium for this event or at least get temporary seating in. This would also help Samoa host Pacific Nations Cup games and more test matches potentially, and help them make money too. The other option is having either Fiji or Tonga host this event.
Given this instance and the reputation of poor financial handling of Samoan rugby funds, is Samoan rugby completely to blame?
Maybe this revenue loss is part of the reason why the All Blacks were so reluctant to visit the Pacific Island nations, but given the number of All Blacks with Samoan heritage and Samoan players with New Zealand heritage, should the NZRU dip into their funds to help cover the costs? It probably isn't their fault as they would have been able to play in bigger stadiums and bigger markets in Asia and North America, but it could be a good gesture.
Should the former IRB, (now World Rugby) have stepped in and offered to bail out Samoan rugby in this case? It would be a good move, but surely there can't be an expected bailout everytime Samoa wants to host an All Blacks test.
This All Blacks game in Samoa was worthwhile for rugby's sake, but World Rugby must move in to take control of how this game was run, especially if Samoa wants to host another game like it in the future, otherwise the same thing will keep happening. You can now see why there is a reluctance of top teams to play in the Pacific Islands.
Who is responsible for Manu Samoa losing $1.5 million hosting the All Blacks and was it worth it?