Welcome home champs!

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Manu sevens captain, Danny Kaleopa, proudly holding up the coveted Hong Kong Sevens cup they had wrested from Fiji as he leads his team out of Polynesian Airline Tooa on arrival at Faleolo International Airport. With him are Lolagi Koko and Brian Lima.

Manu sevens captain, Danny Kaleopa, proudly holding up the coveted Hong Kong Sevens cup they had wrested from Fiji as he leads his team out of Polynesian Airline Tooa on arrival at Faleolo International Airport. With him are Lolagi Koko and Brian Lima.

First Published: 31 March 1993

The champions of the Hong Kong Sevens Manu Samoa, are being given a rousing welcome today which has been declared a public holiday. It begins with a parade down Beach Road this morning, ending at the Apia Park where a welcoming ceremony starts at 9.30am. 

There, the champs are being treated as heroes in the ceremony beginning with a thanksgiving prayer then speeches and other traditional presentations.

The government will also present there a cheque for $150,000 to assist the Manu Samoa with its participation in rugby meetings this year.

Guests at the ceremony will include His Highness, Malietoa Tanumafili 11, Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana, and others.

Later, the champs are invited as special guests at a luncheon being hosted by the government at the Kitano Tusitala Hotel.

They arrived after mid-night last night to a Faleolo Airport packed with well-wishes who turned up to welcome them home. 

Manager Marina Schaafhausen, Coach Taufusi Salesa and the Manu Samoa squad were bringing home the coveted Hong Kong Sevens Cup they had snatched last Saturday from three-time winner, crestfallen Fiji. 

Manu Samoa had crushed Fiji 14-12 in the tournament’s final, in a game seen on TV as face-paced, displaying gruelling, tactical spurts of brilliance, ending with Fiji’s captain, Sitiveni, crying openly and bitterly on the field.

Manu Samoa had earlier defeated the All Blacks 24-14 in the semi-finals, while Fiji had demolished Australia, 15-12.

Although the final show-down between Samoa and Fiji had been widely predicted, the possibility of either the All Blacks or Australia playing in the final had not been ruled out. 

After the Fiji Sevens though, one Fiji newspaper headline declared: “Fiji showing Samoa how to do it”

That alone might have been the impetus pushing Manu Samoa’s captain Lolani Koko and his boys in their relentless drive towards crushing Fiji the “Samoan way” right to the point of eliciting tears of bitterness and shame from the Fiji captain’s eyes. 

The next sevens tournament will be in Scotland next month.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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