The last week of March was a difficult time for the Samoan rugby fraternity. For the Manu Samoa team especially, it was hard.
First they lost former Manu Samoa and All Black, Tiumalu Dylan Mika, and then on the same week, the legendary Laauli Alan Grey, commonly referred to as the “Father of Samoan rugby” passed away.
Today, the Vice Chairperson of the Manu Samoa Old Boys Association (M.S.O.B.A.), Tapuai Faamalua Tipi, is in Samoa to pay the Association’s respect to the late La’auli.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan yesterday, Tapuai highlighted the impact of losing Tiumalu and Laauli in the same week for the Manu Samoa Old boys.
As a co-founder of M.S.O.B.A, Tiumalu played a huge part in pushing the formation of the Association in the hope that it would support and look out for the welfare of ex-Manu Samoa players.
To lose Laauli in the same week was difficult for the M.S.O.B.A. members, who first laid a fellow brother to rest before turning their focus to another great who had a huge impact on lifting the profile of Samoan rugby in the international arena.
“When Dylan passed we got together as he was one of our founders,” said Taupuai.
“Then Alan Grey passed – we were at the crux. We had a huge fono and all the Manu boys were sitting at Dylan’s house and it was stated that we needed to pay respect to Dylan and the aiga -honour him as an old boy of Manu Samoa.”
“We made a decision as a committee to put him to rest respectfully before I came here on behalf of the Association and pay La’auli’s family our respects and give a mealofa.”
At the news of La’auli’s passing, Tapuai said many stories came out from former Manu Samoa players about the scale of greatness and generosity of spirit the late La’auli displayed for Samoa rugby and its players.
“It was quite beautiful,” he said.
“A lot of the boys were expressing the tragedy of having the two passing in the same week. Alan Grey was a huge influence on most of the boys in the 1980’s and 1990’s.”
“He was a real generous man in helping individuals, he helped the Manu Samoa as a whole, putting Samoa on the map.”
“His generosity was legendary, he helped guys when he didn’t need to. The stories that came from the boys were that he helped people off the rugby field as individuals.”
“For example someone we know who was injured with a life threatening injury that finished his career - Alan went out of his way to help with financial assistance, he was a humble man with a big heart so that’s what we will take from his legacy.”
Tapuai will be visiting with Marina Grey and their family to officially pay their respects.
“It was important that we acknowledged the impact Alan had on the lives of many of us to his wife Marina,” he said.
“We want to show our appreciation and remind Marina that a lot of lives – ex Manu Samoa boys owe it to Alan and we want to ensure that we looked after our uso first last week because it was at the same time and come and play tribute to Marina and the aiga.”