All is not lost

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s hugely disappointing. We know. Four losses from four test matches in as many weeks is inexcusable. It’s pathetic in fact. 

Nobody wants it and everyone should rightly be angry and disappointed.

Who wouldn’t?

But for the sake of our sanity, let’s put it this way; if the goal for Samoan rugby from the beginning was to get to the Rugby World Cup in 2019, then all is not lost. 

In fact, it might end up working out a lot better for Samoa.  

The fact is Fiji’s win over Manu Samoa at Apia Park last Saturday had sealed their place in the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Samoa needed at least a bonus point in defeat to prevent Tonga claiming the second automatic qualifying place.

As it stands, both Tonga and Fiji are through. Fiji will play in Pool D against Australia, Wales, Georgia and either Canada or Uruguay. Tonga will play in the so-called Pool of Death against England, France, Argentina and the United States.

That leaves Samoa with lots of work to do. There is one final chance where the Manu Samoa will have to go through the repechage round against the winner of Czech Republic or Portugal versus the second-place team in the 2016-17 Rugby Europe Championship. It’s an interesting prospect albeit a very expensive exercise for a Union already struggling with finances.

But it’s not all bad.

Should we come through the repechage round, we should end up in a much easier pool compared to Tonga and Fiji. And that is what we mean in saying that this could work out better for Samoa. 

Yes we are trying desperately to find a positive spin here after the disappointment from last weekend. But in times like these, we need to. Everyone is angry and when we are feeling that way, sometimes it’s hard to see anything positive. 

There is no doubt that Manu Samoa has hit the absolute bottom of bottoms. Ranked a lowly 16th in the world, the team has become the butt of sad jokes around town. Which is sad. 

But rugby is not the end of the world. Life goes on and yes the much-used and abused saying about the sun rising again will forever be true. Whether Manu Samoa wins or loses, the sun will rise and set as it always does. 

Last month, we asked the question of what has happened to the Manu Samoa?

How did a team, which was once the pride of the nation, become such a sad team to watch? Where did it go wrong? And what can we do from here onwards to lift the performance of this team?

You have your views and we have ours. 

Aside from the players, from where we stand, we believe that we can get all technical until we are blue in the face but if we don’t fix the foundational issues within Samoan rugby, this Manu Samoa team is not going anywhere in a hurry.

The same goes for all the other teams - including the Manu Samoa Sevens. 

The point is that we cannot just blame the coaching staff and the players. To do so would be foolish. We remind that winning teams and champion teams are often determined by policies and plans decided within boardrooms. 

In this case, the buck stops with the Samoa Rugby Union.  The point is that it’s not just Manu Samoa. It’s about Samoan rugby, the processes, transparency, accountability and what needs to be done right. 

Samoan rugby has got to get better. The systems have got to be better. And it’s more than just changing coaches. 

Over the years, we’ve changed countless coaches. We’ve lost count of how many coaches have been sacked. After last weekend’s result, we are pretty sure coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia will soon – if he hasn’t already – joined that long infamous list. 

But that is not the solution. 

We need to look a lot deeper than that. We have to do better than knee jerk reactions and the quick sack the coach kind of response. We need to overhaul our systems – including the very people at the top of Samoan rugby.

What do you think?

Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a pleasant week Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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