Samoa national rugby union team

Samoa national rugby union team
Logo Samoa Rugby.svg
Union Samoan Rugby Union
Nickname(s) Manu Samoa
Emblem(s) the Southern Cross
Coach(es) Samoa Fuimaono Tafua
Captain(s) Samoa Mahonri Schwalger
Most caps Brian Lima (62)
Most tries Brian Lima (29)[1]
Team kit
Change kit
First international
Western Samoa  0 – 6  Fiji
(18 August 1924)
Largest win
 Samoa 115 – 7 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea
(11 July 2009)
Largest defeat
New Zealand  101 – 14  Samoa
(3 September 2008)
World Cup
Appearances 4 (First in 1991)
Best result Quarter Finals, 1991, 1995

The Samoa national rugby union team is the representative side of Samoa in international rugby union. In Samoa, they are often called Manu Samoa, in honour of a famous Samoan warrior, and from 1924 to 1997 competed as Western Samoa. They perform a traditional Samoan challenge called the siva tau before each game. They were formerly members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Tonga.[2] They are ranked 10th in the world. They have been funded by millionaire Sir Michael Fay, one of New Zealand's wealthiest men, since 1996.[3][4]

Rugby was introduced to Samoa in the early 1920s and a governing body was soon formed. The first international was played as Western Samoa against Fiji in August 1924. Along with Tonga, these nations would meet regularly and eventually contest competitions such as the Pacific Tri-Nations – with Western Samoa winning the first of these. Samoa have been to every Rugby World Cup since the 1991 tournament. That tournament, along with the 1995 competition saw them make the quarter-finals.

Under their new coach, the All Blacks legend Michael Jones (himself of Samoan descent and a Samoan international), Samoa worked hard to create a side able to compete effectively in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where they were grouped with England, South Africa, Tonga and the USA. However, Samoa had a dismal World Cup campaign, defeating only the USA and finishing fourth in their group, which forced them to go through qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. The team however comfortably qualified with 188–19 aggregate win over Papua New Guinea. Jones resigned immediately after the World Cup; in January 2008, Niko Palamo, formerly the country's under-19 and sevens coach, was named as his replacement. He would later be replaced by former sevens coach Titimaea "Dicky" Tafua in 2009.[5]

Manu Samoa play in blue and white uniforms. They do not train on Sundays because many of the team are devout Christians.



The Marist Brothers brought the game of rugby to Western Samoa in 1920 and The Western Samoa Rugby Football Union was formed in 1924. On 18 August 1924, Western Samoa played its first international against Fiji in the capital Apia, the visitors winning 6–0. The match was played at 7am to allow the Samoans time to get to work afterwards and was played on a pitch with a large tree on the halfway line. The return match was won 9–3 by Samoa to draw the series.

In 1954 Western Samoan visited both Pacific Island neighbors Fiji and Tonga but had to wait a further 20 years before a tour of New Zealand took place. The Samoans won one of eight matches on that tour.

The traditional tri-series between Tonga, Fiji and Western Samoa was established in 1982 with Western Samoa winning the first tournament. Wales visited Western Samoa and won the test 32–16 at Apia. The tour led to a return visit to Wales which brought Western Samoa out of International limbo, although Western Samoa were not invited to the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.

The following year a 14-match tour of Europe took place before a World Cup elimination series in Tokyo, which gave Western Samoa a place in the 1991 Rugby World Cup in Britain. They made a huge impact. After sweeping aside Wales 16–13 in Cardiff and defeating Argentina 35–12, and narrowly losing 3–9 to eventual champions Australia in their pool match, Western Samoa, a country with a population of 160,000, found itself in the quarterfinals against Scotland at Murrayfield. The Scots won comfortably 28–6, but the Samoans were clearly the personality team of the tournament.

Over the next two years the side had a number of notable wins. The most outstanding achievement were in Sevens where it won the 1993 Hong Kong and 1992 Middlesex Sevens. The 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa proved that the team belonged in top company. They again reached the quarterfinals after wins over Argentina and Italy, but were beaten 42–14 by the eventual winners South Africa. After the Cup, Manu Samoa made a 13-match tour of England and Scotland, drawing 15–15 with the Scots and going down 27–9 to England.

With the advent of professional rugby in 1995 it was vital for Manu Samoa to develop a new administrative structure. This was made possible with Fay Richwhite and the Western Samoan Rugby Union joining forces to form Manu Samoa Rugby Limited, which now manages business for the team. Samoa emerged from the 1999 World Cup with its honor intact after another shock 38–31 victory over host nation Wales in the pool stages. They again lost out to Scotland in the quarter final play-off.

Manu Samoa qualified for the 2003 World Cup with a 17–16 loss against Fiji, Earl Va'a missing an injury-time penalty. They recovered to beat Tonga both home and away and avenged that Fijian defeat with a 22–12 win in Nadi. They ultimately had to settle for second place in the round robin, behind Fiji on points difference, and a place in the tougher of the two Rugby World Cup 2003 pools alongside automatic qualifiers England and South Africa. In one of the games of the tournament, they led eventual champions England for most of the game before losing 35–22.

Samoa qualified for the 2011 World Cup after beating Papua New Guinea 73–12 in Port Moresby on 18 July 2009. They won 188–19 on aggregate over two matches against Papua New Guinea, having won 115–7 at Apia Park the previous week. [6]

Samoa began their 2011 World Cup campaign preparation with a flying start, after registering an upset against No.2 ranked Australia with a four-try-to-two win of 32–23.[7]

The New Zealand connection

Western Samoa's triumph in the 1991 Rugby World Cup was inspired by their assistant coach Bryan Williams who was a New Zealand born (but of Samoan descent) All Black great of the 1970s. The 1991 Samoan World Cup team included many New Zealand born or raised players, the catalyst was Auckland prop Peter Fatialofa, who in 1989, became the first major New Zealand-based player to decide to play for Samoa. By the time of the 1991 World Cup several other New Zealand born Samoans like Pat Lam, Stephen Bachop, Frank Bunce and Apollo Perelini had joined him. It was around this time that players of Samoan descent, the children of the mass-migration of the 1960s and 70s, were beginning to make large waves in New Zealand rugby. Some like Michael Jones were New Zealand born while others like Inga Tuigamala had immigrated at a young age. The number of Samoan-born players to represent the All Blacks increased in the 1990s. However, many of these players have been educated in New Zealand from an early age, developing their rugby skills within the very challenging New Zealand secondary schools competition. Mils Muliaina, Jerry Collins, Isaia Toeava and Casey Laulala are just four of the many Samoan-born players who have chosen to represent New Zealand, after having been educated there. eniasi tokelau

In recent times[when?] New Zealanders of Samoan descent have been key members of the All Blacks squad, including former New Zealand captain Tana Umaga. In some Test matches on their 2005 Grand Slam tour of the Home Nations New Zealand fielded a side packed with players of Samoan descent. New Zealand born players with Samoan parentage have also played for Samoa, such as Earl Va'a, Pat Lam and Lome Fa'atau.

The rugby relationship that exists between New Zealand and Samoa is undoubtedly a complex one. Close ties exist between the two countries, these bonds first being formed with the start of mass Polynesian migration to New Zealand in the latter half of the twentieth century. Naturally, many players eligible for Samoa have chosen to play for the All Blacks, recognising the obvious potential for financial and sporting rewards. Also, unfortunately, because of current international eligibility laws, many Samoans who commit themselves to playing for the All Blacks find that they are unable to play for the smaller nation when their dreams of pulling on the black shirt are unrealised.

In the 2007 World Cup there were 14 New Zealand born players in the Samoan squad, and five Samoan born players in the New Zealand squad.[8] The only team with more foreign born players in their squad was Italy who had 15.[8]

World Cup record

Samoa performing their Siva Tau before playing South Africa at the 2007 Rugby World Cup
Year(s) Result
1987 Did not participate
1991 Quarterfinals
1995 Quarterfinals
1999 Quarterfinal play-offs
2003 Pool stage
2007 Pool stage
2011 Pool stage

In one of the scenes of the feature film, Invictus, Western Samoa can be seen playing South Africa in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Overall record

Top 20 Rankings as of 7 November 2011[9]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 steady  New Zealand 91.43
2 steady  Australia 87.42
3 steady  France 84.70
4 steady  South Africa 84.34
5 steady  England 81.58
6 steady  Ireland 80.65
7 steady  Argentina 80.28
8 steady  Wales 80.18
9 steady  Tonga 76.63
10 steady  Scotland 76.20
11 steady  Samoa 75.81
12 steady  Italy 73.99
13 steady  Canada 72.92
14 steady  Georgia 71.09
15 steady  Japan 70.45
16 steady  Fiji 68.78
17 steady  United States 65.63
18 steady  Romania 63.98
19 steady  Namibia 61.24
20 steady  Portugal 60.67
*Change from the previous week
Samoa's Historical Rankings
Samoa IRB World Rankings.png
Source: IRB - Graph updated to 07/11/2011[9]

The Samoa team's Test match record against all nations, updated to 17 July 2011, is as follows:[10]

Nation Games Won Lost Drawn Percentage of wins
 Argentina 4 3 1 0 75%
 Australia 5 1 4 0 20%
 Belgium 1 1 0 0 100%
 Canada 2 2 0 0 100%
 Colombia 3 3 0 0 100%
 England 5 0 5 0 0%
 Fiji 43 15 25 3 34.9%
 France 1 0 1 0 0%
 Georgia 1 1 0 0 100%
 Germany 1 1 0 0 100%
 Ireland 4 1 3 0 25%
 Italy 4 3 1 0 75%
 Japan 7 6 1 0 85.7%
 South Korea 1 1 0 0 100%
 Namibia 1 1 0 0 100%
 New Caledonia 1 1 0 0 100%
 New Zealand 5 0 5 0 0%
 New Zealand Māori[11] 9 1 8 0 11.1%
 Papua New Guinea 2 2 0 0 100%
 Scotland 6 0 5 1 0%
 South Africa 6 0 6 0 0%
 Tahiti 1 1 0 0 100%
 Tonga 37 20 15 2 54.1%
 United States 3 3 0 0 100%
 Uruguay 1 1 0 0 100%
 Wales 6 3 3 0 50%
Total 155 67 82 6 43.2%

Current squad

Coach Fuimaono Tafua's, 30-man Samoa squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. [12]

  • Number of caps and players' age as of 9 September 2011.

Head Coach: Samoa Fuimaono Tafua
Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by the International Rugby Board.

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Ole Avei Hooker 13 June 1983 (aged 28) 2 France Bordeaux
Ti’i Paulo Hooker 13 January 1983 (aged 28) 6 France Clermont
Mahonri Schwalger (c) Hooker 15 September 1978 (aged 32) 36 New Zealand Highlanders
Census Johnston Prop 6 May 1981 (aged 30) 30 France Toulouse
Logovi'i Mulipola Prop 11 March 1987 (aged 24) 5 New Zealand Hawke's Bay
Anthony Perenise Prop 18 October 1982 (aged 28) 10 England Bath
Sakaria Taulafo Prop 29 January 1983 (aged 28) 10 England London Wasps
Daniel Leo Lock 2 October 1982 (aged 28) 26 France Bordeaux
Filipo Levi Lock 6 September 1979 (aged 32) 24 New Zealand Tasman
Joe Tekori Lock 17 December 1983 (aged 27) 17 France Castres
Kane Thompson Lock 9 January 1982 (aged 29) 18 New Zealand Hawke's Bay
Maurie Fa'asavalu Flanker 12 January 1980 (aged 31) 10 England Harlequins
Manaia Salavea Flanker 26 March 1986 (aged 25) 8 France Narbonne
Ofisa Treviranus Flanker 31 March 1984 (aged 27) 16 Samoa Malie
George Stowers Number 8 14 February 1979 (aged 32) 19 Wales Ospreys
Taiasina Tuifu'a Number 8 20 August 1984 (aged 27) 3 England Newcastle Falcons
Kahn Fotuali'i Scrum-half 22 May 1982 (aged 29) 5 Wales Ospreys
Junior Poluleuligaga Scrum-half 5 February 1981 (aged 30) 18 England Exeter Chiefs
Jeremy Su'a Scrum-half 10 November 1988 (aged 22) 0 Australia West Harbour
Tasesa Lavea Fly-half 10 January 1980 (aged 31) 5 England Sale Sharks
Tusi Pisi Fly-half 18 June 1982 (aged 29) 3 New Zealand Wellington Hurricanes
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu Centre 31 October 1980 (aged 30) 19 England Gloucester
Johnny Leota Centre 21 January 1984 (aged 27) 2 England Sale Sharks
Seilala Mapusua Centre 27 February 1980 (aged 31) 19 Japan Kubota Spears
George Pisi Centre 29 June 1986 (aged 25) 7 England Northampton Saints
David Lemi Wing 10 February 1982 (aged 29) 29 Scotland Glasgow
Sailosi Tagicakibau Wing 14 November 1982 (aged 28) 18 England London Irish
Alesana Tuilagi Wing 24 February 1981 (aged 30) 22 England Leicester Tigers
James So'oialo Fullback 22 March 1989 (aged 22) 3 New Zealand Northern United
Paul Williams Fullback 22 April 1983 (aged 28) 7 France Stade Français

7 non-travelling reserves were also named.
Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by the International Rugby Board.

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Simon Lemalu Prop 23 January 1981 (aged 30) 13 New Zealand Counties Manukau
Jonny Fa'amatuainu Lock 29 December 1983 (aged 27) 12 Unattached
Alafoti Fa'osiliva Flanker 28 October 1985 (aged 25) 7 France Toulon
Ezra Taylor Number 8 6 April 1983 (aged 28) 2 Ireland Connacht
Lualua Vailoaloa Scrum-half 28 November 1980 (aged 30) 4 Australia Parramatta
Fa'atonu Fili Fly-half 31 August 1981 (aged 30) 5 New Zealand Wellington
Fautua Otto Centre 23 July 1985 (aged 26) 5 England Bristol

Notable former players


  1. ^ Although he has 30 total tries for Samoa, one was not against a Test side. For a more complete discussion of this issue, with sources, see List of leading Rugby union Test try scorers
  2. ^ We quit: SRU Samoa Observer
  3. ^ Rattue, Chris (13 March 2004). "Michael Fay plans two-day talks on Pasifika proposal". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Samoa’s Prime Minister praises banker, Sir Michael Fay, for supporting Manu Samoa". Radio New Zealand International. 18 April 2004. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "International Rugby Board – News". 3 February 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Samoa qualify for 2011 World Cup". BBC Sport. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Samoa shock Australia with 32–23 win in Sydney BBC Sport, 17 July 2011
  8. ^ a b "All those born abroad". Planet Rugby. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007.,21043,13089_2760268,00.html. Retrieved 2 October 2007. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b "World Rankings". International Rugby Board. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  10. ^ International Rugby Union Statistics – Statistics for Samoa – Teams Played
  11. ^ Although the New Zealand Maori are not New Zealand's national representative team (see All Blacks) many Test nations award their players Test caps when playing them.
  12. ^ "Samoa name strong squad". Planet Rugby. 2011-08-24. 

See also

External links

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