"Respect and Self-Belief".
"You don't go onto the pitch if you don't think you can win".
Just a couple of quotes from the Samoan players after one of the biggest upsets in international rugby. Samoa's 32-23 victory over Australia on Sunday sent the European rugby press into over-drive, when normally they would have been settling down to a good lunch followed by the 'Tour de France' or the 'British Golf Open' on television. Few results in the professional era have caught the imagination like this, except perhaps that Fiji-Wales result in RWC 2007.
|Rod Davies is hammered by Alesana Tuilagi as Samoa stun the Wallabies 32-23. Photo courtesy of planetrugby.com. |
By all accounts well deserved, the Samoans saw off the second best rugby nation in the world – at least according to IRB world rankings. Some reports say it was an Australian 'A' team, but regardless any Australian player who pulls on a Wallaby jersey is running onto the field to win the game, period. Samoa have only 800 senior players to choose from, so please no excuses. It was an exceptional team effort where all Samoan players played their part. An example to follow when pitched against mightier opposition.
Until this result, the news occupying the rugby pages in Europe was the farce that is the RFU (England Rugby) - no CEO, no Chairman, no direction, and quite possibly no World Cup 2015; as well as the Luke McAllister saga and the refusal by Toulouse to pay the 35,000 Euros demanded by N.Z. Rugby for the early release from his contract with them.
Other contract news involved three Fijians - Isake Katonibau and Joeli Lutumailagi will not, after all be turning out for Carcassonne, ProD2 (French 2nd Division), this season. Apparently the former has not been able to secure the necessary clearance to leave his Army job, while Joeli had the misfortune to be tied into two agents 'acting on his behalf'. One negotiated the Carcassonne move, the other pursued the Colomiers course. The ProD2, wishing to avoid another 'Matadigo' court case, have chosen to 'let sleeping dogs lie', so Joeli will be playing Fed 1 (French 3rd Division) rugby come September. Colomiers were relegated at the end of last season.
The third story is a little more bizarre, if French magazine 'Midi Olympique' is to be believed. A non-existent Canadian rugby club from Toronto was offering to take on the U20s Nadroga centre, Jone Wai, for a reported seven thousand Euros a month. The player was asked to send off 200 Euros to a Nigerian intermediary to sort out the required visa, paper-work. Neither the Nigerian or the promised contract were to be heard of again. The 200 Euros disappeared into thin air.
There have previously been warnings from the IRB on similar scams as can be seen in the attached IRB letter dated 24 June, 2010.
So back to the Samoan result, and the upcoming game between the Flying Fijians and the All Blacks on Friday in Dunedin. The Manu have shown what a united team can do. If a similar surprise is to be achieved this Friday, the Flying Fijians must unite as one, forget the recent past, and cut out the indiscipline that is the difference between victory and defeat.
Both Islander teams last met their respective opponents 6 years ago, the Manu going down 74-7 and the Flying Fijians 91-0 to N.Z.
Four other meetings during the last 30 years have been equally one-sided. The best result was back in 1974 when Fiji faced a N.Z. XV, losing 13-14. It was known as a NZ XV as the NZRU did not cap players against Pacific Island teams like Fiji. That day the NZ back division included: J. Karem, B. Williams, B. Robertson, G. Batty and D. Bruce all of whom were current All Blacks during that time!
Win or lose on Friday what is asked for is the 'fighting' spirit that Fiji is known for and a united effort that will do the nation proud ahead of the RWC.