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The national rugby union team of Samoamarker is called Manu Samoa (the name of a famous Samoan warrior some 10 generations ago). From 1924 to 1997 they were known 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. They are ranked 10th in the world. They have recently been bankrolled by millionaire Sir Michael Fay, one of New Zealandmarker's wealthiest men.

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 quarterfinals.

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 Guineamarker. 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.

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 Apiamarker, 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 Tokyomarker, which gave Western Samoa a place in the 1991 Rugby World Cup in Britainmarker. They made a huge impact. After sweeping aside Wales 16-13 in Cardiffmarker 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 Murrayfieldmarker. 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 developed 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 Rugby 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 Rugby 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 Nadimarker. 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 Rugby World Cup after beating Papua New Guinea 73-12 in Port Moresbymarker on 18 July 2009. They won 188-19 on aggregate over two matches against Papua New Guinea, having won 115-7 at Apia Parkmarker the previous week.

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 Rugby 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 60s 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.

In recent times New Zealanders of Samoan descent have been key members of the All Blacks squad, including past 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. The only team with more foreign born players in their squad was Italy who had 15.

On September 3rd 2008 they got smashed the All Blacks 101 - 14 in a test match, their biggest defeat in history.

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 Qualified. Quarterfinals.
1995 Qualified. Quarterfinals.
1999 Qualified. Quarterfinal play-offs.
2003 Qualified. Pool stage.
2007 Qualified. Pool stage.
2011 Qualified

Overall record

Their Test match record against all nations, updated to 29 November 2009, is as follows:

Nation Games Won Lost Drawn Percentage of wins
4 3 1 0 75%
4 0 4 0 0%
1 1 0 0 100%
2 2 0 0 100%
3 3 0 0 100%
5 0 5 0 0%
43 15 25 3 34.9%
1 0 1 0 0%
1 1 0 0 100%
1 1 0 0 100%
Ireland 4 1 3 0 25%
4 3 1 0 75%
7 6 1 0 85.7%
1 1 0 0 100%
1 1 0 0 100%
1 1 0 0 100%
5 0 5 0 0%
9 1 8 0 11.1%
6 0 5 1 0%
6 0 6 0%
1 1 0 0 100%
37 20 15 2 54.1%
3 3 0 0 100%
1 1 0 0 100%
6 3 3 0 50%
Total 155 67 82 6 43.2%

Current Squad

Squad for the 2009 Autumn Internationals:

Position Club
Uale Mai Apia West
Junior Polu Chiefs
Fa'atonu Fili Wellington
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu Gloucester
Henry Fa'afili Leeds Carnegie
Seilala Mapusua London Irish
Gavin Williams Clermont
David Lemi London Waspsmarker
Lucky Mulipola Tasman
Anitelia Tuilagi Sale Sharks
Titi Esau Apia West
Lolo Lui Apia
Position Club
Mahonri Schwalger Sale Sharks
Andrew Williams Apia West
Jeremiah Fatialofa Counties Manukau
Cencus Johnston Toulouse
Sakaria Taulafo Tasman
Justin Va'a Glasgow Warriors
Filipo Levi Newcastle Falcons
Joe Tekori Castres
Kane Thompson Dax
Jonny Faamatuainu Bath
Semiperive Semeane Apia
Misioka Timoteo Apia
Ofisa Treviranus Apia West
George Stowers London Irish
Henry Tuilagi Perpignan

Notable former players


  2. - International Rugby Union Statistics - Statistics for Samoa - Teams Played
  3. 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.

See also

External links

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