Welsh mixed ability team are embraced by incredible Samoan hospitality
On Thursday afternoon, two teams from opposite ends of the world, come together to take part in a friendly Rugby match at the Samoa Rugby Union in Tuanaimato.
The Rhyfelwyr Llanelli Warriors of Wales, are a team consisting of players with a mixed range of abilities, and while on their tour of the Pacific, they took the opportunity to play one of Samoa’s most prestigious teams, the BBE Vaiala Ulalei Sports Club.
The remarkable experience of playing on Samoan turf against the champions of the league was only made more memorable by the mutual display of hospitality and respect.
For both teams, the game was clearly about fellowship and inclusivity, as Qwilym Lewis, the Chairman and Number 7 for the Welsh Warriors said.
“We are very proud to come out and play in one of the great rugby cultures, and to having travelled so far, we are pleased to be here,” he said.
“It’s not often that a grassroots Welsh side are in this part of the world and it should be a great occasion for all of us.”
The event didn’t disappoint, with the Samoans lending a few players, both teams fought hard, but more importantly learnt from each other, and by the beaming smiles on both sides, thoroughly enjoyed the event.
The Llanelli Warriors chose to donate their jerseys and a number of their boots to their opposing players, an act greatly appreciated by the young Samoan talent.
The Vaiala Ulalei Sports Club’s Secretary welcomed the Welshmen with open arms.
The club’s appreciation was evident in her post-match addressed, “You really embody the spirit of rugby and why we do what we do. We thank you so much for everything that you have given and the support.”
The Welsh were presented with a Tanoa by the Club Secretary, “this symbolises friendship and this what today was about, thank you very much, fa’afetai.”
The Warriors narrowly missed out on a victory, but the score was unimportant to all involved. Both teams were glad to just be involved and meet each other.
Gwilym Lewis added, “We hope of course, to bring a bit of Wales with us and gain respect, while demonstrating that a disability is not necessarily a barrier to Rugby.”
The mixed range of abilities made for an exciting game, as Referee Aukuso Ualesi ensured safe play.
“Today there will be much time spent on managing and communicating with the players” he said. To be able to referee the match was a great opportunity, as Ualesi was greatly impressed at the Welshmen’s refusal to let their disabilities hold them back from embracing the game.
After the match, the teams shared drinks and stories from their respective homes. The Welsh manager ended with the statement, "We are very proud to play against such incredible players, and the best club in Samoa, we’d like to wish you all the best for your big game on Saturday.”