Former Samoan international Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu claims Gloucester told the centre that he ‘couldn’t be paid more than a Scottish player’ when negotiating his contract at the club nearly a decade ago. Fuimaono-Sapolu was speaking in an extract from a new documentary – Oceans Apart – which is being produced by Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW), the organisation supporting professional players from the Polynesian islands.
The PRPW Tweeted: “While it’s great to see rugby governing bodies showing support for the BLM movement, let’s not pretend that racism doesn’t exist in rugby at the detriment of minority players”, along with the accompanying video of Fuimaono-Sapolu, in which he claimed then the management at the time said he couldn’t pay the centre as much as a Scotland international.
“I played in England for seven years. I played in Japan for three years. I played in Bath for about three years and played for Gloucester for three and half years,” said Fuimaono-Sapolu. “In terms of Gloucester I did really well there. I won all the awards; I won players’ player, player of the year, try of the year, season ticket holder player of the year, fan player of the year, club player of the year.
“I won everything, so I thought you at my next contract I can ask for something pretty decent. And I was told straight, there’s no way I could be paid more than a Scottish player.
“So learning all those things, having those experiences, about what really goes on in rugby, and knowing that you are never what you achieve. I will always be the stereotype in their mind that I’m not worthy of a Six Nations (level) contract or a Tier 1 contract regardless of how I played.
“That’s one of the experiences that I had.”
“I went back to the changing room that day and told my Scottish mates, who played for Scotland, and they all went ‘what the hell are they doing telling you about our contracts?’
“We are not valued for what we achieve and how good we are. We’ll always be this low-value brown person. That’s just the way it goes. It’s cheap labor. Extraordinary rugby players for an ordinary price.”
While it’s great to see rugby governing bodies showing support for the BLM movement, let’s not pretend that racism doesn’t exist in rugby at the detriment of minority players @worldrugby @englandrugby
— PacificRugbyWelfare (@pacificwelfare) June 4, 2020
The 39-year-old Fuimaono-Sapolu has consistently fought for the rights of Pacific Island players, believing that are poorly treated with the professional game. This has got him into trouble in the past, noticeably in 2011 during the World Cup.
Dan Leo’s Pacific Rugby Players Welfare is a not-for-profit organisation that works with over 400 Pacific Island rugby players worldwide. The latest part of their Oceans Apart documentary series will be released soon.
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