Leo says it is an empty gesture.
Former Samoa international Daniel Leo has accused the English RFU of “virtue signalling” after they changed the England Saxons’ name. The RFU announced during the week that they would be changing the name of their second national team from the England Saxons to England A, as they feel it better represents the “diversity” of the team.
Leo, who is the CEO of the not-for-profit players association Pacific Rugby Welfare, believes the change of name is an empty gesture from the world’s wealthiest rugby union.
“Sorry but dropping Saxons and Swing Low, even creating an RFU diversity group… all simply virtual [sic] signalling until the financial model that allows tier two teams playing England at a packed Twickenham for sub-minimum wage is addressed,” Leo said on Twitter.
Sorry but dropping Saxons” & Swing Low🎶 , even creating an RFU diversity group…all simply virtual signalling until the financial model that allows Tier 2 teams playing @EnglandRugby at a packed twickenham for sub-minimum wage is addressed. https://t.co/nREZgoKfwk
— Daniel Leo (@danleo82) May 11, 2021
Daniel Leo: Changing the name of the England Saxons is ‘virtue signalling.’
The former Samoa international has complained about the way in which gate revenue from matches played in tier one nations is shared with tier two nations on multiple occasions.
In a letter Leo sent to the CEOs of the Six Nations sides in July 2019, he asked for 10 per cent of the profits generated from a match played between a tier-one nation and a tier two nation to go to the tier-two nation, when the game is played in the tier-one nation.
While the Pacific Rugby Welfare CEO acknowledged that the English RFU have made unofficial “goodwill” donations to tier two nations in the past, he believes that practice must be made standard.
This is a letter we sent July ‘19 to the CEO’s of each of the 6 Nations
— PacificRugbyWelfare (@pacificwelfare) February 29, 2020
As of today, no official practice has been adopted by rugby’s tier one nations, with each of those rugby unions entitled to hold onto 100 per cent of profits generated by home matches.
To make matters worse, tier-one nations rarely play tier two nations away from home, which means that those rugby unions have few opportunities to make a profit from games against the biggest rugby nations in the world.
World Rugby has pushed for more games to be played in tier two nations, but those efforts have been hampered by the effects of the pandemic (such as Ireland’s tour of Fiji which was unfortunately cancelled due to coronavirus concerns).