When you are down in a dark valley….
The equation appears straightforward. Beat Germany today at Apia Park and in the second game on their home soil and we are through to the Rugby World Cup.
And when the World Cup kicks off in Japan next year, should Samoa defy the odds and put on a performance that surpasses everyone’s expectations, no one is going to care how we got there.
Which means that the result at the World Cup is one that matters.
Seems easy enough, doesn’t it? Not quite.
Not with a team whose morale is probably at an all time low after a string of losses and being ridiculed so openly for it not just by their harshest critics but also some of their very own. Some of it is well meaning of course.
But how do you appease a man’s hurt pride? How do you redeem something you know is within your means to control yet you can only watch it spiral away from you? So close yet so far.
That’s the story of our rugby today. While we think we know the answers and what needs to be done, the outcomes on and off the field have sadly not given us any joy. It’s become a source of national pain.
Today, rugby in this country desperately needs something positive. Even a victory over a lowly-ranked Germany team will do. That’s how bad it has become. But then that’s life.
There’s the good, bad and the ugly. It happens to the best of us – even to the best teams in the world.
Amidst a storm of critcisms and doubts in the build up to today, one man spoke with a voice of reason this week. Sir La’auli Savae Michael Jones brought a calming and reassuring presence not just to players but to the supporters.
A man who commands authority in the rugby realm, Sir Michael’s encouragement to the Manu Samoa, urging them not lose faith and heart, is something worth pondering upon. It’s a message for the Manu Samoa, Samoan rugby supporters and to anyone who is going through a rough time.
The gist of it is that people make mistakes. But mistakes don’t determine our future, they only help to shape our destiny. Which is the ultimate goal.
Now listen once more:
“I was just thinking as I was driving up here is that we have been in this situation before, each and every one of us who has been a rugby player, an athlete and there are times when you are on a mountain top when you are high up there and everything is good, everything is great. But there are times when we will be in a valley.
“You can be in a dark valley and a deep valley and please know that each and every one of us has been there. This is not new. I just want to say that where you are now is not a bad thing, when you are in these places; it is one of the greatest moments of your life. Why?
“This is where men encounter their forge, this is where you get to rebuilt you inner being or your core. In these places there is only one way you can go, you can climb and the light would only get brighter this destiny for us it’s your defining moment. As individuals you may have been here 10 years and some have been here two weeks. This week is your defining moment.
“Yes it has been a tough road but reality is we can see that you are building; you are growing every day, everything that has been planned out as part of your management. There is a bigger picture.
“Our prayer and our heart today are to simply encourage you that your destiny is your hands right now. It is not in your coaches or parents hand or our hands or the union hands.”
“That is when real men step up as they say, real Manu men take this opportunity and they head up together. Right mind, right heart and the right spirit and they start heading up. They only look forward.
“They worry about last week or two weeks ago. We are only measured at the World Cup. You are on a journey to something bigger and greater. It is all about where you are heading. It starts this week.”
Thank you Sir Michael for those words. To our Manu Samoa, this country and her people will forever be supporting you. You are our team. O outou mama na!
Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!