A bit more patience

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Poor results mean less interest. It’s that simple. 

And if you’re wondering why there is hardly any hype and excitement about the Manu Samoa’s test match against Tonga today in this rugby mad country, look no further. 

A draw and a loss in their first two test matches this year has prolonged the agony for the Manu Samoa faithful with all of them pinning their hopes on the outcome of today’s traditional all Polynesian derby at the Apia Park. 

We’ve done the talking. We’ve heard enough from the coaches and players. 

All we want now is a winning outcome. 

For the sake of rugby in Samoa, a victory is a must. It doesn’t matter how that is achieved.

Manu Samoa’s misfortunes have certainly not been helped by the Manu Samoa Sevens failure to qualify for the Olympics so that today, no one really wants to talk about rugby.

Judging from what’s been said, we understand that the Manu Samoa Sevens coaching staff and the players are gutted. We also understand that Spain and all the other countries have been pumping ridiculous sums of money into their Sevens rugby programmes and that does make a big difference. 

But is that a good enough excuse? 

If money is the deciding factor, how then did we win the Paris Sevens, beating all those bigger countries? How did we go from conquering New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji to losing to lowly ranked Ireland? Where did that come from? It doesn’t make sense, does it? 

Don’t get us wrong. We love all our rugby teams just as the next Samoan. 

And yes we have to accept that there are factors beyond our control – such as finances and human resources – that give other teams the edge. 

But should we then take that as a sign that it’s time to find a new sport since we will never be able to compete on those fronts in rugby? 

These are the questions we have to ask ourselves.

And no we are not suggesting at all that we sack the coaching staff. Samoan rugby has done that so many times with the same results. How many coaches have we had to change to prepare us for the Olympics and yet we have still failed? 

Which means the problem is much bigger than what we are merely seeing on the field. And that’s where the focus should be.

The same attitude should be adopted when it comes to the Manu Samoa 15s. 

To be fair, it is way too early in the piece to start judging this new group of players and the coaching staff. A draw and a loss does not spell a disaster but boy wouldn’t it be nice to win for a change, especially at Apia Park.

And with a place in the next Rugby World Cup on the line, its time for the Manu Samoa to get its act together. Against Georgia, we played better in the second half after woeful first half display. Last week against the Flying Fijians, we got off to a flying start but wobbled in the end. That tells us there is definitely plenty of potential in this team and what they really need is to play for the full eighty and they should get the desired result. We know rugby is a game of two halves but we need this Manu Samoa to play both halves today. 

Tonga as an opponent is difficult enough as it is. It doesn’t matter which player Tonga puts on the field, we can be absolutely sure they will be up for this game.

Besides, Samoa and Tonga affairs are not battles, they are wars. And they don’t come much tougher than that. 

At Apia Park this afternoon, we’ve got the perfect equation for a mouthwatering test match. We have two winless teams looking to make amends. Add the history of the traditional rivalry to the mix; we are in for a treat.

During the past few weeks, as far as rugby is concerned, we accept that the results have been disappointing. We know we are all gutted. But let’s not write off our Manu Samoa. They are still our team, win or lose.

What we want to say is that winning rugby takes far more than just a group of players and some high profile coaches. The results on the field are often determined by decisions being made in the boardrooms but there is good news.

We’ve seen some key changes in those boardroom positions and hopefully with a little more time, we will be able to taste sweet victory once more. 

But it would be so great if that starts today against Tonga. So let’s get behind our Manu Samoa one more time at Apia Park. Get your tickets and we will see you there.

Go Manu Samoa!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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