Why we should still continue to support our Manu Samoa

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s a big week for our Manu Samoa. As such, we need to get behind our team and give them as much support as we can as they eye a much-needed win that will help them secure a place in the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

We know things have not been great with our rugby, both the Manu Samoa 15s and Sevens. We don’t have to tell you. 

All you have to do is read what the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union said on the Sunday Samoan to get an idea about the mood in the camp. 

 “You have no guts,” he told the Manu Samoa last week when he visited them, following their winless Pacific Nations Cup campaign.

 “I told them to look at Tonga, their population is nowhere near 200,000 and yet they are playing cricket with you guys. This shows you have no guts. You played ten games and you lost in all of those ten games, so what does that tell me, ‘you have no guts’.”

It’s hard to blame Prime Minister Tuilaepa for being frustrated. Most Samoans are probably thinking along the same lines but don’t have the resolve to say it publically at least. As we’ve said before, as the Chairman lording over the Union’s poor form of late, Tuilaepa is the one who cops the flak from everybody. 

But is it the wisest thing to do to blast the players with such choice of words on the eve of the year’s most important game? Keep in mind that we desperately need to beat Germany this week if we are to stand any chance at all. 

Here’s the thing to keep in mind. When a team’s morale is low, it doesn’t matter who they play, they will always struggle. Which means that while on paper Samoa should win this game comfortably, we shouldn’t write off the Germans just yet. 

While we are desperate to restore pride in our rugby and get to Japan next year, Germany is on the cusp of their biggest achievement in rugby this week. A victory over Samoa in Apia and back in Germany – which will secure them a ticket to the World Cup – will be the biggest day in the history of German rugby.

It means the Manu Samoa must not underestimate the challenge from Germany.

The thing with what Prime Minister Tuilaepa said is that it could work both ways. It could rile up the players so much to the point they will come out on Saturday like mad-possessed men and demolish Germany or it could lower their morale further. 

It doesn’t help that the Chairman of the Union also appears to have inadvertently disrespected the opposition, which is something you do not do in any sport.  

 “Everything happens for a reason, and with this game with Germany the Manu Samoa will come back strong in this game,” he said.

“The reason being is because we have reached the very bottom and there is nowhere else for us to go except coming back up.

 “They will be playing against the team that has no knowledge whatsoever on how to play rugby, so we must win this game.”

Really? We hope these comments don’t come back to haunt us. 

Getting back to our Manu Samoa, we know it has been tough. Ten losses in ten games must be pretty hard to swallow. But when you hit rock bottom, there is only one way to go and that is up. 

Besides, one of life’s golden rules is that you don’t kick someone who is already down. Now that Prime Minister Tuilaepa and everyone has gotten some steam off their chests about the performance of the team, let’s try and accept the status quo and put our best foot forward to support our team and players.

One of the reasons why everyone is critical of the Manu Samoa is because people have a sense of ownership over this team. The Manu Samoa is the people’s team; it is a team that represents the hopes and dreams of this proud nation. That is why when they lose; it becomes a national pain. The opposite happens when they win and it has been a long time between drinks.

Keep in mind that perspective is a wonderful thing. Let me take you out of Samoa to highlight my point. For the past few years, Tonga both in Rugby League and Union has dominated Samoa. The same goes for Fiji, in the 15s and Sevens.

A few years ago when Samoan rugby was flying high, we reveled in the feeling Tonga and Fiji are now enjoying. We took it for granted that the Manu Samoa would beat them any day. 

And while we celebrated, those countries were in mourning. Now the tables have turned. It’s our time to mourn while they rejoice. For Samoa, it’s hard but it is what it is.

The only consolation is that we have been mourning for a while now. We must be due for a celebration of sorts. Surely. So let’s keep the faith. 

How? Get out those blue T-shirts and let’s show the Manu Samoa that they are still our team. Go down to their training sessions, the hotel and encourage our players. Give them a helping hand if they ask.

Even better, find a ticket and get down to Apia Park on Saturday to cheer them on. Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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