The Manu Samoa 7s team is stranded in Dubai after being denied passage onto a repatriation flight to New Zealand, according to a report by Samoa Observer.
An apparent failure of the team to comply with the Samoan Government’s own requirements to prove they do not present a COVID-19 risk is behind the team’s stranding, several internal sources have said.
In addition to the failure to prepare the team for their return journey to Samoa, the Lakapi Samoa management is also apparently strapped for cash and relying on charity from Samoans in Dubai to take in members of the squad.
Two sources within the Manu 7s camp confirmed to the Observer that the players were stranded in Dubai for a period of at least four weeks while waiting for the next possible flight to Auckland and said that the team was being kept in the dark for the official reason.
Team members have been told to reach out to local members of Dubai’s Samoan community, something which the sources said suggested the team had simply run out of money.
Former international Daniel Leo has blasted the Government on Twitter.
“Samoa govt. blocking Manu 7s & Manu Sina from entering after blood tests didn’t meet Samoa MOH standards. Now must wait till 27th July to determine date to travel back to Samoa. World Rugby were unaware but have confirmed they are now assisting,” he wrote.
In a further scathing tweet he wrote, “Wonder if they’d be treated this way if they had been successful in qualifying for the Olympics? Probably would have been a first class flight organised for them by govt.”
The Observer reports that World Rugby has indicated it will step in to provide financial assistance to the stranded Manu squad.