Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Former coach Nat Saumi keeping his fingers crossed for Plymouth Albion


THE first thing Nat Saumi is likely to do when he wakes up in Fiji on Sunday morning will be to find out how his former club Plymouth Albion got on against Moseley.

It will be nearly 4am in Saumi’s homeland when Albion’s must-win match at Billesley Common finishes, but the club’s former head coach is eager to find out the result

If Albion do not claim a victory in Birmingham then their 13-year stay in English rugby’s second tier will come to an end.

However, a win on Saturday would mean the relegation battle will go down to the final week of the season when Albion entertain Doncaster and Moseley travel to Jersey.

Although Saumi is desperately hoping Albion can triumph in their next two matches, he says whatever happens the club, which came so close to going out of business a couple of months ago, just have to look forward and rebuild, whether that is in the Championship or National One.

“I just wish the club good luck for this weekend,” said Saumi.

“Hopefully, they will play well and get the win then it goes down to the final game of the season against Doncaster.

“But whatever happens hopefully the club comes back stronger. If we go down we can build up properly again and come up again.

“But if we stay up then that would be good also for the city, supporters and ex-players. With Graham (Dawe), Mr Vosper and the new board they could change a few strategies so the club can improve.”

Saumi spent 10 years at Albion, first as a player, then a coach and eventually became director of rugby during the troubled 2011/12 season where the then board replaced Graham Dawe with Peter Drewitt, only for him to leave six weeks later when a new backer pulled out.

Saumi thought he had stabilised the club after that ill-fated campaign before leaving in 2013 after guiding Plymouth to ninth.

But after an eighth-placed finish in 2013/14, the club have hit new lows this term, claiming just three league wins all term and head coach James Shanahan, who had asked supporters to judge him on his second season, left earlier this month.

Saumi, who was part of the Albion side that came so close to reaching the Premiership 10 years ago, just hopes the club can get themselves totally sorted and end years of financial problems and frustration.

“For the last six years we have been struggling to get out of that (relegation) zone and have been lucky to have stayed up,” said Saumi.

“Right now we are still hanging in there but by a thread. We just have to win these two games full-stop.

“The only thing we can do is to support Graham and the team to just to try and stay up. That would be good.

“But if we can’t stay up and we go down to National League, Graham has been there and knows what has to be done to try and come back. He’s an experienced coach and he knows the formula. I am sure he can identify the players he needs and can build again”

Saumi knows only too well how tough it is to get a win at Billesley Common.

He took Albion there in the opening game of the relegation play-offs in 2011/12 but could not edge out a determined Moseley side.

“It’s not an easy place to go, especially when both teams want to stay up,” said Saumi. “They (Moseley) will try and grind it out right to the last whistle to try and stay up. They know they just need a win. If they win it is all done.”


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