Friday, 13 November 2009

Personal plea from Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland urges fans to give generously tonight when Wales host Samoa at the Millennium Stadium, to help rebuild Samoa after a tsunami destroyed the tiny south Pacific island in September.

Today I am asking for the powerful and fantastic support which inspires our players on the pitch to be used to help a worthy and desperately important cause on the other side of the world.

Please give generously to the Samoa Tsunami Relief Fund bucket collection which is taking place inside and outside the Millennium Stadium before, during and after the Friday night international.

On the pitch the players from both sides will give one hundred per cent for their teams and their nations in a Test match battle which will be played with no quarter given.

But rugby is proud of its reputation for representing basic principles and values which will be epitomised when the teams shake hands after the final whistle is blown.

Many of our team play their Regional rugby alongside players whose families have been directly affected by that terrible disaster which struck their homeland on September the 29th.

We know that the Samoan players and coaches now visiting Wales share that hurt through the plight of friends and family.

None of us will forget the images of the disaster which happened when a Tsunami wave swelled from an undersea earthquake and struck the South Sea Islands.

A least 135 people are known to have died with many victims being swept out to sea and lost for ever when the wave receded after causing its shoreline destruction.

Buildings were torn apart and whole communities washed away.

The pictures flashed around the world in newspapers and on television screens show isolated tree stumps standing in shoreline wastelands where families once lived in beautiful towns and villages.

Right now the focus is on supplying food and shelter to the families rendered homeless by the wave and helping the injured recover.

But the government of Samoa has already estimated that the long term project to rebuild the infrastructure of the island will cost well in excess of £150 million. That figure could multiply dramatically when the full impact of the Tsunami is assessed.

Here the Welsh Rugby Union acted quickly to announce a cash collection which will make a small but important contribution to the cause.

By writing this open letter I also hope to encourage people who are not attending the game to give what they can to this very worthy cause. The government of Samoa has very kindly thanked the WRU for acting decisively and showing our support at this difficult time.

We are grateful for that thanks, but our help is offered simply in the name of humanity and in the spirit of the bond of friendship Wales and Samoa share through rugby.

In camp our minds are focused on winning and I am absolutely certain that the Samoan squad are equally committed to achieving victory at the home of Welsh rugby.

The Samoan rugby team will come to Cardiff in determined mood and we must be equal to them on the pitch, but off the pitch we are also keen to offer help after the tragic events of the recent Tsunami disaster.

We all take pride in the dignity of our sport and we must not fail to take this opportunity to add, in some small way, to the help being aimed at the relief efforts.

Our bucket collection is for the official Samoan government relief fund but there are also many more agencies delivering vital help at this time.

Wales is known the world over for the pride and power of its support for our national sport and we know that energy can be utilised for good causes when the need exists.

Without apology I repeat my plea to everyone attending the match at the Millennium Stadium: please give generously to the Samoa Tsunami Relief Fund bucket collection and make a difference.

Thank you.


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