We know this is true about Samoa. And many other places too. Sporting success is one thing that unites us. It inspires people, it makes them forget about the troubles of life and brings them together to celebrate, rejoice and sometimes share the ‘if onlys.’
In Samoa, we’ve seen this over and over again with the success of our sportsmen and women over the years.
In this instance although there are plenty of ‘if onlys’ to reflect upon, there are still some positives to take from the Sevens team’s efforts in Singapore last weekend. Among the ‘if onlys’ is of course the last minute loss to Argentina in the Cup quarterfinal which would have set them up nicely for a clash with Kenya in the semis and possibly a tilt at our first World title.
Alas it wasn’t to be.
We saw Kenya go on to beat Argentina in their semifinal and then in the final recording a famous victory over Fiji for their first ever World Rugby Sevens title.
What a moment for Kenya. It is truly a remarkable achievement that will be celebrated in that country for some time to come. But why not? Who doesn’t rejoice when he is moved by that winning feeling?
When it comes to Kenya, it has been a long time coming. Sure they have been pretty close at times but in Singapore last weekend, they could not be denied, even by a team that has so far been the best in the competition.
So well done, Kenya!
Now, coming back to the Manu Sevens, what if they had survived Argentina.
Who knows? Keep in mind that we gave Fiji a pretty good hiding the day before and our record so far this season has been quite solid against the Fijians. We could have well been celebrating on the streets of Apia this week.
Mind you it has been a pretty long time between drinks when it comes to success in the abbreviated code of rugby. And although the expectations for that to happen are rather low, there are times when this team shows signs that they can beat any team in the world. And they have.
Look at what happened last weekend. We played brilliantly against Fiji and gave them a hiding. We struggled through our next few games where we ended up against a star-studded New Zealand team in the final. Well most of you know the result by now. An intercept try by the little livewire Tila Mealoi gave us a famous win over our Kiwi friends and the plate, unfortunately.
We say unfortunate because we’d prefer to win the Cup. That should be our ultimate goal. But as we’ve said before, we have to be realistic and appreciate the small steps and minor improvements.
The performance in Singapore was a massive improvement after they bombed out in Hong Kong.
You see, the story of the national sevens team is summed up like this. We go from spicy hot to being freezing cold and then pathetic in some instances. Like a yo-yo, the team’s form has been lacking some real consistency.
And that will be the challenge for coach Damien McGrath and his players.
To their credit, the majority of these players are new and they have only played together for a year. So to be able to pull off some of the big wins we’ve seen, that tells us that there is plenty of potential there.
All they have to do now is sort out the issue of consistency and ensure their heads are in the right place all the time. Sometimes you really have to wonder what they are thinking about with some of the silly stuff they do on the field.
Last week, we saw some brilliant glimpses of attack and the tackling was great to watch. What was even more impressive was the commitment they showed in the breakdown, especially outmuscling New Zealand in that department. It was a pleasure to watch.
What’s invigorating about this performance is that it at least gives us a sense of hope. This is not to say that they are there yet. No we are not.
But it’s a start and it’s something they can build on. We know that it is a very young team and they lack the experience of some of our more successful teams in the past.
But that’s okay.
What’s important is that they have again taken a gigantic step forward, assuring the world and themselves perhaps that not all is lost.
There is no doubt that their performance last weekend was not only delightful for supporters and fans to watch in Samoa and around the world, it would do them a world of good in terms of going forward.
We can only remain hopeful.
Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!