Justice not done to the jersey: Sopoaga

By Shalveen Chand 08 October 2023, 1:00PM

Manu Samoa undoubtedly played their best match of the Rugby World Cup when they faced England in an 18-17 loss on Sunday morning.

However, flyhalf and man of the match, Lima Sopoaga believes justice was not done to the jersey as he summed up Manu Samoa’s RWC campaign.

"It has been a disappointing couple of weeks, we felt we just didn’t give the jersey the justice it deserved,” he said after the game. “Tonight I’m proud, we didn’t come away with the chocolates,

"But we left it all out there and that’s all that anyone can ask. I’m incredibly proud of the boys, just a little bit disappointed and just gutted for Samoa and all our fans and supporters."

Sopoaga said the turning point in the game was the mistakes they committed.

"I guess a call here and there, a mistake here and there and at the highest level you’ll pay. That’s a quality England team, they hung in there and they got over the line in the end," he added. "But I am incredibly proud of the team and what we tried to give out there. We were down early and we kept fighting and unfortunately, it just wasn't our day today."

Manu Samoa head coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua said his heart breaks for the Manu Samoa players. He said there was a lot to be done and admitted the team did not get to the level they had planned for.

"Lot to have a look at, in terms of getting here – once we were here. It’s not a coincidence that we’re playing our best by the fourth game. We seriously need to look at our programme and the exposure we can get to these tough matches against Tier-1 teams. There’s a lot of work to do, but we’ll look at tomorrow.

"A lot of it has to do with where we finish at the World Cup. I’ve always thought there’s been a case [for that] but unfortunately, performance is not enough. But there’s enough to show we can be competitive at this level against teams like England."

The head coach believes that for Tier-2 nations like Samoa to get better, they need more matches with Tier-1 teams.

"Well, we wouldn’t see games like we saw tonight. It was a great contest between two proud countries. You’re basically seeing an expanded Six Nations and Rugby Championship," he said.

"I’ve got a long list. The main thing is time together on the field, which means more games. It’s one of the biggest resources we don’t have. We have players across the globe, it’s always going to be hard."

Manu Samoa captain Michael Alaalatoa said he was disappointed about the loss but proud of the boys.

"We’ve only shown glimpses of what we can do and tonight wasn’t perfect by any means, there were a few opportunities that we capitalised on and a few we left out there and when you are playing against a team like England, you need to maximise every opportunity you get,” he said.

"But tonight was our best performance by far and I am glad we were able to end on a high in terms of our performance, but absolutely gutted.

"I hope we made our people proud back home."

Manu Samoa have won only one of their four games in the Rugby World Cup, going down to Argentina, Japan and England. The team finished in fourth place with seven points in their pool.

By Shalveen Chand 08 October 2023, 1:00PM
Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy unlimited access to all our articles on any device + free trial to e-Edition. You can cancel anytime.