England stars ditch plan to help out 'bankrupt' Samoa amid fears they could be accused of bribery

England's players decided not to donate a slice of their match fees from Saturday’s clash with Samoa to the impoverished islanders for fear it could cast doubts on their sporting integrity.

England will earn £22,000 a man at Twickenham while the Samoans receive £650 for each appearance and their union is on the brink of bankruptcy. The problem is so acute that a website is currently seeking to generate emergency funds.

Two of England’s leading Polynesian stars — Manu Tuilagi and Mako Vunipola — had suggested the England squad should consider giving a small cut of their match fees to the visitors, but there were misgivings.

Prop Dan Cole said: ‘Our concern is over the ethics of paying an opposition to play against you and the future issues it might create. Not so much opposition asking for pay but the potential for it to look like, “We’ve paid you before, now you owe us a favour”. It’s above our station as players. It’s not for us to get involved in the politics of paying people.’

Cole is alert to the bigger picture of Samoa and the other island teams operating against a backdrop of regular financial turmoil. 

He and his team-mates are also aware of their fortunate fiscal status and said: ‘There’s probably some envy at what we get paid and the facilities we have. As players you want the best facilities, best training, all that stuff. We probably do have those things, with the backing of our union.

‘When you hear about some of the struggles other nations have, and then we have these facilities, I can see why everyone else would want that. The issues are not player-to-player. The issue is with the unions and World Rugby. I would love for other nations to get paid what we get paid.’

 

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