When times are tough, the celebration of victories – whatever the size - is extremely important. It will go a long way to ensure future success.
The same must be said for our beloved Manu Samoa today.
Their two victories over Germany, starting with the win in Apia two weeks ago, and the one in Germany yesterday morning, are moments to savour.
Let me tell you why. It’s not just for the fact that they won but what these victories represent.
Firstly it represents the culmination of a lot of hard work by the players, coaching staff, the management and the Samoa Rugby Union as a whole.
We don’t need to tell you that things haven’t been that great in terms of the team’s performances prior to the qualification matches. In fact, the team and the Union had been under the pump for quite sometime.
Having lost ten test matches consecutively, the current crop of players copped some heavy criticisms from all over the place, including from the very Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. He did not hold back when he told them that they have no guts and that if they failed to beat Germany, all of them should resign.
At the time, the words spoken sounded pretty harsh.
But in hindsight, it might have just been the spark needed to fire up the players for that inspired and motivated performance in Apia.
But there is more to these victories. They also represent the acknowledgement of the support of the tapuaiga a Samoa.
Indeed, it is the prayers of not just the players’ families but also all the Manu Samoa supporters in Samoa and all over the world, and there are thousands of them. These people – including all of us – are fiercely proud of our Manu Samoa.
As we’ve said before, if there is one team that could unite this country, it is this rugby team. Which is why people become extremely disappointed when things don’t go well for them.
In some cases, maybe, just maybe, we need to lower our expectations a bit to take into account today’s realities in terms of professionalism and how much rugby as a global sport has changed.
The success of Manu Samoa during its early days has not helped their cause. Why? People will always judge the Manu Samoa and compare it to the teams of yesteryears who punched well above their weight.
They are not wrong. But we’ve got to try and believe that the best is yet to come for this rugby nation. If we believe that our best has come and gone, then what else is there to aim for then? What’s the point of continuing?
Of course there are challenges and multiple problems. There are plenty of them.
Our Rugby Union is broke and there are layers of issues in terms of administration, dealing with old attitudes before we even start to look at the development of the sport, which is so vital.
But the good news at least today in Samoa, there is reason to be upbeat. We have qualified for the Rugby World Cup next year. This column doesn’t subscribe to the nation that our pool including Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia is one of the easiest pools the Manu Samoa has found itself in.
The team should not think like that at all. All those teams are tough teams, gone are the days where one could write off Japan. Not any more. And if our team nearly lost to Germany yesterday, what makes us think Russia will be a walk in the park?
The reality is that our Manu Samoa has a lot of work to do. Yesterday’s sloppy performance was hard to watch at times.
Besides, beating a lowly-ranked Germany team doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence in their ability to take on the bigger teams.
But it’s a start. And maybe this is what we needed to do, start back from the bottom and work our way back up the ladder so that we are hungry for success again. One of the best things when you hit the absolute bottom is that there is no other way to go but up.
Let’s hope this is the beginning. While there is so much more work to do for the Manu Samoa to reach its true potential, let’s enjoy these small victories and appreciate them for what they are worth.
Congratulations to Coach Fuimaono, Manager Va’aelua Aloi Alesana, Captain Chris Vui and the rest of the Manu Samoa team. Fa’amalo le tauivi!
Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!