The first woman to be appointed Manager of the Manu Samoa Sevens since the professional era of rugby, Leuluailii Theresa Passi has been replaced by the SRU before being given the opportunity to participate in an HSBC World Series Sevens tournament.
The Samoa Rugby Union has announced on their facebook page that the new manager for Samoa Sevens is Shalom Senara, previously Development Coordinator for the SRU.
Leuluaialii was appointed 3 months ago at the back of a disappointing 2016/17 season for Samoa Sevens, with its world standing of 13th being an all-time low in the history of the national side.
The Samoa Sevens Manager position has been in a disarray since Sir Gordon Tietjens appointment as Head Coach. Last season, the team was without an official manager when Ramsey Tomokino was replaced after the Sydney leg of the 2016 season. Masoe Steven Betham then continued as Assistant Coach/Manager until he too was removed from the traveling squad. Video Analyst Harry (Junior) Narayan was then believed to have taken up the team’s managerial duties until the 2017 season ended.
Samoa Planet understands that Leuluaialii had been working at the Samoa Rugby Union office since her appointment in July 2017, in preparation for the upcoming season.
At the time, the SRU announced “Leuluaialii brings 20 years of administrative experience in the travel industry which will be hugely beneficial in this role.”
Head Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens was also “adamant that she is up for the challenge” and was quoted, “The appointment of a female as part of team management is not new in the rugby arena. We look forward to her in supporting the team achieving its objectives and goals in the upcoming HSBC 7’s series”.
Leuluaialii had expressed her willingness to take up the Manager role back then, stating, “I am excited and looking forward to the many challenges that will come my way and I am grateful to the Samoa Rugby Union for the opportunity to contribute to the 7’s campaign” Leuluaialii said.
The SRU media release did not give a reason for the sudden change of heart.
Several sources from the SRU have stated that Sir Gordon Tietjens has been unhappy with the candidates appointed by the SRU to accompany him in the Manager position. Attempts to contact Tietjens directly have been unsuccessful. SRU media officer says that we must send our questions to the SRU, and they would contact the Samoa Sevens Coach for us.
The SRU CEO Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai now says, “Shaloms appointment was endorsed by the board to replace Ms Theresa Passi who has stepped down from the role.”
He adds, “We are delighted for Shalom to have him assist Sir Gordon and Steven Betham lead our Sevens programme into a very important year for our 7’s campaign with the Commonwealth Games, the 7’s World Cup and the HSBC series.”