Once upon a time, the Mole was a fan of all things Samoan. He remembers their performances in the 1991 World Cup with a lot of fondness, in particular the performances that brought the great Frank Bunce to the attention of Kiwi coach Laurie Mains.
This was back in the days when the All Blacks had no scruples whatsoever about picking lads who had played for other countries. Bunce was far more Kiwi than he ever was Samoan, but couldn’t get a look at the black jersey until he wore the blue one. There you go – it’s really neither here nor there when it comes to this article.
The point is that I’ve been favourably inclined to the Samoans for a long time. They seemed to get the short end of the stick a little, with their best players being picked off by New Zealand or playing thousands of miles away from home in the French and English leagues. They had few fixtures against high-quality teams and yet were able to compete with limited resources on the world stage.
Anyway, I’ve no historical axe to grind against them. However, I think they’ve gone fairly close to disgracing themselves at this World Cup.
They’ve been by far the dirtiest team in the competition. It’s incredible how they get a free pass for all the swinging arms, high tackles and niggles off the ball, ‘because that’s how islanders play’. Rugby is a plenty physical game when played within the rules, so it’s difficult to have any sympathy for teams who consistently and brazenly cheat and go around trying to injure opposition players with cheap shots and king hits.
Maybe Paul Williams was a little unlucky to be sent off against South Africa: he’s been one of their best players, and he generally plays a clean game. A yellow card would probably have been a better call than a red, but I’m not sure that he has much reason to complain. He was hanging out of Heinrich Brussouw long after the ball was gone, and from the Mole’s point of view, Brussouw had every right to try and break the bind in the way he did. Williams should have just taken his medicine, but instead he had to try and have the last word.
For the most part, I felt that the South Afircans kept their cool and didn’t get involved too much – good leadership from their experienced men. They’re a fiery and physical bunch themselves, and would have no qualms in taking the Samoans on mano-a-mano if that was the aim of the game. Instead, they concentrated on winning the match.
Samoan discipline is appalling, and it comes from the captain down. The Mole thought that Mahonri Schwalger had a lot more class and maturity than he showed against the Boks; obviously, he was wrong. Schwalger was clearly very psyched up for the match, but disregarding the ref’s instructions, arguing with him and generally looking askance every time he addresses you is p*ss-poor captaincy. That’s all it is. It’s not heart, it’s not national pride, it’s just a gaping void where your leadership should be.
The less said about twittering f*ckwit Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, the better. This is the chap who compared the Samoan schedule [which saw them facing Wales four days after they lined out against the largely amateur and largely p*ss-poor Namibians] to the Holocaust. I’m sorry fella, you’re an imbecile. He’s now launched an expletive-ridden attack on referee Nigel Owens, which steers well into defamation and should see him banned by the IRB.
The Samoans feel aggrieved about the short turn-around that saw them play Namibia on Wednesay and Wales on Sunday. You didn’t hear the Namibians bleating about that being their second game in four days [having played Fiji on the first Saturday of the competition], and the Samoan coaching team didn’t have either the confidence or the common sense to play more of their second-string players in that game. It’s not as though the schedule was a secret: they knew exactly what they were getting into.