Poor Prime Minister Tuilaepa.
Tuilaepa has got a point regarding the 7s team. They never won any tournament from the 2000 season until 2007. I can only remember them getting into one Cup final in all that time. It was at the Wellington 7s in 2002. They lost to Chester Williams-coached South Africa. I remember it clearly because I was there watching with my Samoa flag. Romeo Ah Chong’s team.
It was only in 2007 when Fuimaono Dicky Tafua’s team won the first ever tournament (Wellington) for Samoa since the I.R.B. international 7s series started in 2000. Actually, it was the first tournament win for Samoa since the 1993 Hong Kong 7s. That is a gap of 14 years (although it was only HK7s in the 1990s.)
Between 2007 and 2012 it was the golden era of Samoa 7s, some all-time greats of the sport. We the supporters were so blessed to have had that golden generation of players. We all know the names of those players; we do not have to recount them here again.
For the 15s, they have usually always lost. Only every now and then do they put up a good fight. Granted, the current 10 match losing streak is a record of losses. Losing to even Romania. Well, that takes the cake.
It was only in 2010 (end of year tour) when I saw a different team. A team that could compete with the world’s best and either beat them or give a good account of themselves.
Sure enough, that team went onto beat Australia in 2011 and should probably have done better in the world cup 2011. In 2012, Samoa reached the highest ever ranking in our rugby history (7th). Samoa stayed 7th for about two years.
The 15s golden generation was in those years 2010-2013 (beat Scotland in 2013, beat Wales in 2012, beat Australia 2011, should’ve beaten Wales and could have beaten South Africa as well.
So what happened? Well, is it a coincidence that ever since all the complaints about the Union started up from 2011 and then 2014 player strike that our rugby has gone backwards?
World Rugby has essentially taken over all the financial side of the Union (all coaching salaries, yet our results are the worst they have ever been.
Samoa 7s now has fulltime contracts and a fulltime squad split in two. It has the best coach in the history of the sport (in terms of results).
Yet the 7s results have gone backwards on the field. In other words, things have improved off the field, the Union has bent over backwards to cater for the players, and get the best coaches, and get fulltime contracts and World Rugby oversees everything, yet the results on the field have been nothing short of abysmal.
On the field, it has been an absolute disaster since the great days of 2012 when the 7s team were still winning tournaments and the 15s team last beat a tier-one nation.
Maybe they need the hard life of the previous teams to get back to winning ways? Maybe the players are getting too soft from all the comfort?