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Samoa Brings the Thrills, and Now the Wins, Too

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Samoa Brings the Thrills, and Now the Wins, Too

Mike Lee KLC Fotos for World Rugby.

The mystery isn't that Samoa won the Cape Town 7s, or any 7s tournament for that matter—the mystery is when they don't win.

A country with an astonishing blend of powerful athletes and athletes who are fast and elusive, rugby-mad Samoa is always one of the most entertaining teams on the Sevens World Series circuit. Daring, fearless, and explosive, it is Samoa that combines physicality and insane offloads more than anyone else.

And when it all comes together, well, it's hard to imagine anyone else does it better.

Funding (or lack thereof) and the Polynesian diaspora Samoa have meant that the Samoan national 7s team has had its ups and downs. 

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It doesn’t seem that long ago that Samoa was on top of the world, with World Player of the Year Mikaele Pesamino the smooth-cruising try-scorer, Lolo Lui the little general, and Alafoti Fa’osiliva the concrete block crashing down on unwary defenders. But that World Series-winning side was in 2010.

Still, they were really fun to watch, with Pesamino being the Human Torch, Lui taking the role of Mister Fantastic, and Fa’osilivi obviously the Thing, all they needed was the Invisible Woman and you’d have a perfect Fantastic Four … hmm … maybe she was there all along and we never saw her.

That all was 12 years ago, but now Samoa is back challenging the top teams. When Samoa made the semifinals in LA in August, fans were delighted in part because the Samoan community is so strong in California. But really fans were delighted because a good Samoa is good for the game.

This past weekend in Cape Town Samoa’s high-risk game was put to the test in the final. After some lovely weather all weekend the rains came to Cape Town and poured down on the final with New Zealand.

It was a bizarre coming out party for Samoa as the rain sat in puddles on the field. They had to defend for much of the first 10 minutes, but did it in classic style, highlighted by Tuna Tuitama’s counter-ruck meters from his tryline that turned the ball over and was so intense in its ferocity that Roderick Sollo had to be taken off with a shoulder injury.

Still they took risks, sending offloads through the water with New Zealand looming to snag the ball. Somehow they didn’t, and when Faafoi Falaniko shouldered away a blitzing defender, suddenly Samoa was in business.

Falaniko took off out of his 22, and passed to Tuitama, who booted the ball downfield. Caleb Tangitau recovered for New Zealand but he was outnumbered, and Tuitama forced a penalty for not releasing in the tackle. 

Penalty, quick tap, and a wide pass to the big star, Vaa Apelu Maliko, for the try. From their own line to a try 100 meters away, in a monsoon … classic Samoa.

There is no reason to think Samoa won’t be their surprising, enterprising, entertaining selves in Los Angeles. Their fan base is vocal and passionate in SoCal, and this team will do them justice.