A documentary produced by Pacific Rugby Welfare Dan Leo investigating the state of rugby in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji has evoked an enormous reaction online and inspired a call for change in how the game is governed by World Rugby.
Oceans Apart: Greed, Betrayal and Pacific Rugby – a production that was three years in the making – takes aim at World Rugby, highlighting the injustices that exist in the game and the exploitation of Pacific Island players. It also exposed the scandals and corruption that officials in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have been involved in.
A former Samoan forward, Leo also recounted his own experiences as a player and how his international career was terminated in 2014 after he spoke out about the treatment of Pacific Island teams in the lead-up to a fixture with England at Twickenham.
His documentary interview with Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Samoan prime minister and rugby chairman, was fraught with danger given the personal threats he had received after speaking out in the past.
Since the documentary’s release earlier this week there has been an overwhelming response online and Leo has been widely praised for bringing to light so many of these issues.
Due to the large number of messages we've had asking how people can support PRPW and our work, please see our Patreon link here ??https://t.co/y6TxDJqGhh
— Daniel Leo (@danleo82) November 18, 2020
Whether it is players having dual nationality, a fairer share of money or a change in the voting system for the World Rugby council, the documentary intensified the calls for change regarding how the sport is governed. The response amongst the playing community has been significant as well, with players from all over the world showing their support.
Tonga and Stade Francais full-back Telusa Veainu thanked Leo for “exposing our struggle”, while ex-England captain Dylan Hartley said, “Someone with position, power, a half-decent moral compass needs to watch”.
Although Leo’s ex-Wasps teammate James Haskell said in the documentary that “everybody puts their hand up and says they are going to do good stuff and then nothing happens because nobody does anything about it”, the response to this film so far has suggested that the PRPW’s cries are starting to be heard.
— Lima Sopoaga (@LimaSopoaga) November 17, 2020
— Telusa Veainu (@tveainu) November 17, 2020
The rugby world need to watch this video! https://t.co/LfheX8vU4e
— James Haskell (@jameshaskell) November 17, 2020
— Census Johnston (@cenjohnston) November 16, 2020
“The reason there will be no change is because the people who stand to lose from change have all the power, and the people who stand to gain from change have none of the power, this sums up the game of rugby today”
— Ben Atiga (@atiga1037) November 16, 2020
— Agustín Pichot (@AP9_) November 17, 2020
Someone with position, power, a half decent moral compass and @PrimeVideo needs to watch ??
— Dylan Hartley (@DylanHartley) November 18, 2020
Powerful ?? https://t.co/28XNJNBrTC
— Nick Williams (@nick8williams) November 17, 2020
— Jerome Kaino (@jeromekaino) November 17, 2020
— NGANI LAUMAPE (@NLaumape) November 17, 2020
— ardie savea (@ardiesavea) November 17, 2020
Well done @danleo82 – one of the big reasons we started the charity Youth in Union was because of the kindness and generosity ive seen with Pacific Island professional rugby players ?? https://t.co/Wmsldw3UEd
— Lachlan McCaffrey (@LockyMcCaffrey) November 17, 2020
Just finished watching this. Always knew Pacific Islanders had it tough but this is a real eye opener. If rugby is to preach about its values then this needs addressing asap! Respect @danleo82 https://t.co/j5tWk0TYOw
— Freddie Burns (@FreddieBurns) November 17, 2020
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