Friday, October 21, 2011

ELSDAY: Double portion of blessings in a Single weekend - ...

ELSDAY: Double portion of blessings in a Single weekend - ...: I've left this a tad late, but better late than never as the thoughts and the feelings haven't really faded from the weekend two weeks back....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rugby: Isn't it just a game?

Previously I wrote a blog in response to Greg Hurvitz article which came to my attention after my newsfeeds on Facebook was displaying hate comments, links, pictures etc towards said sports blogger. I ignored it at first (partly because I didn't have the time, and I thought it was one of those passing phases). But the day after checking my Facebook again, the negativity was still leaving skid marks on my newsfeeds and my brain. So I read the article, and I felt the same angst that my fellow Samoans were feeling, BUT, rather than reply straight away, and hone in on the instantly assumed strokes of racism prejudice, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, reflected on what I saw in the game, and compared it to what he was saying. Then I wrote to him.

To date, the odour of sourness is still meandering in the halls of social-networking, and I hate to say that we're possibly flirting with making our Samoa (known for its friendly people and a beautiful tourist destination) appear to be a people who are unable to tactfully handle injustices that the Manu Samoa were dealt, AND an opinion from an individual in South Africa. I see the frustration of some who replied to my blog (which was a copy of the original article by Greg Hurvitz), Facebook pages, YouTube comments, Tweets ranging from hating on Nigel Owens to IRB resulting in a volley of argumentative comments between Samoans (and their sympathisers) v Welsh/South African fans. And the majority of comments are unhealthy and are misrepresenting Samoans......yes Samoans! For some strange reason, I feel embarrassed when I read some of the comments that a hurled towards people from other countries. After all, it's rugby isn't it? Rugby is just a game right?

The facts are:

• The Manu Samoa had full-support and hopes from fans, believing they were strong contenders for at least Quarter finals (by their playing I reckon it could've been further)
• They were unfairly treated by the IRB
• Sapolu has been left hung out to dry by the SRU
• and (some of) the management are a reflection of dare I say typical administration when it comes to Samoans performing in "Palagi" policies and formalities.
• The World Cup 2011 campaign is over for Manu Samoa
• They played awesome rugby

BUT it begs to ask the question. Is it really about the game? NO I don't think so. Samoan person reading this right now, you would agree that we feel, that because of our so-called physicality, athletic, artistic and musical abilities...oh and good looks coupled with a public display of being funny, charming and hospitable, incredibly hospitable. That our ability to think and assess situations is where we are "getting hoodwinked" is overlooked right?

I have no idea how Rugby Union became a political playing field, but I have an inkling that the film "Invictus" may have given us a bit of insight to what it meant for South Africa in 1995. I remember being gutted that my hero Jonah Lomu couldn't pull off the world cup win. But after watching that film I thought, yeah the Springboks deserved that cup. (Crazy huh?)

My theory is, IRB hadn't expected the Manu Samoa to come to the world cup in immaculate form, and neither did the Samoan fans. In the lead up to the World Cup, the Wallabies Test was the only true measure to see how the well the players played together. And big ups to the Wallabies for constantly allowing the Manu Samoa to play against them year in, year out. The result blew the fish out of the water because they were an amazing outfit. The Manu Samoa then carried the hopes and dreams of nearly every Samoan accross the globe, to show the world that such a humble little nation is capable of big things. And the IRB became the tyrant that wanted to stunt their success by manouvering and manipulating. The first indicators of our expressed frustration and wayward support came as an attack to the ref and Lavea in the Welsh game, and then the gloves came off and literally the fans became a "manu feai" when the Manu Samoa lost to the Springboks.

Could it be that at closer analysis, this represents our walk in life? Where teachers, bosses, administrators etc don't expect you to achieve too much because the stereotypical Samoan is only successful in physicality, athletic, artistic and musical abilities? Undercutting the fact that you're able to strive for bigger things? And rather than the Manu Samoa having a happy ending like "Invictus" it became more like an "Enviction"? I certainly hope this is the case, otherwise our passion for the game is probably more intense then Gregs.

However they haven't gone silently in this eviction as Sapolu has spoken up and looks like he will continue to do so. Sapolu's tweets may have come accross to some Samoans as free reign to insult every IRB committee member, Nigel Owens, Welsh, South Africans etc which I'm certain wasn't Sapolu's intentions. Although I don't fully support the way Sapolu has gone about it, Sapolu knows what he's doing, so let him do what he does, he's got the smarts, has tact, and a passion for rugby, he was right in amongst it and he is human so his tweets may have been a knee-jerk reaction and/or a deliberate bait to the media to get his word out like he wanted.

How long will we hover over this corpse? Let the Manu Samoa Campaign 2011 Rest In Peace, and allow us to reflect on the montage of well-played games that showed an honourable team followed by a flawless obituary. Let Sapolu represent the case in question, and win the jury to a just decision. And allow yourself the pleasure of knowing that the Manu Samoa is not a manifestation on how your life will pan out. If you want to see a team of Samoans that should represent how to handle injustices, look no further then "The Mau" They would advise the frustrated fan to quit with the verbal threats and unnecessary banter, and if you're up for the challenge, try not to think about it. There are plenty of other ways to express your thoughts and feelings, like through your artistic and musical abilities?

The Mau were up against bigger players than the IRB, and their World Cup Finale win is forever etched in the history of Samoa. In the words of the late Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III whose last words were spoken after he was shot and killed at a peaceful demonstration - "Samoa filemu pea si ou toto nei tauvalea a ia aoga a lau ola mo lenei mea".

An eloquent interpretation: "My blood has been spilt for Samoa. I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price"

This was said for the sake of "Samoa mo Samoa" (Samoans will govern Samoans). Surely we can apply the same principle to the Manu Samoa at RWC 2011, I mean Rugby is just a game right?

So rather than express our frustrations, and misrepresent the character of the Samoan people, take a deep breath, figure out why you're taking this so personally, refrain from the profane, cop it on the chin, and contribute towards making Samoa the "attratction" that it truly is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Samoans, a disgrace to world rugby - by Greg Hurvitz

Note from blogger: this is a copy that has been removed from the following link

""So we know that the Pacific Island’s rugby reputation is one of immense physicality with some decent skill in open and broken rugby. The physical side of their game is attributed to their large build.

Western Samoa have always revelled in levelling the physical playing field with the Springboks. In 1995 Joost van der Westhuizen and Andre Joubert were victims of the most heinous rugby transgressions — not much punishment was meted out in a time where on-field discipline was mostly left to the referee. In 2003 Derick Hougaard got absolutely pile-driven into the turf by Brian Lima, who built his relationship on all he offered to the game, bone-crunching (mostly illegal) body contact with opposition. But nothing like 2011 has been seen before.

The excuse of culture just does not sit with me this time around. What Western Samoa did on in New Zealand was inexcusable and a disgrace to rugby. It was abundantly clear from the outset that they had no intention of making this game a rugby skills contest but in fact they had one objective, to physically abuse as many players in white and green jerseys as possible. I wish there was a column in these useless after-match statistics for off-the-ball play. No doubt Western Samoa would have rated 100%, their only dominance in the game. Not because the Boks were physically inferior but purely because the professional world champions came to the field to stick to their plan — to play rugby. Play the ball not the man.

Western Samoa tarnished the Rugby World Cup on that day and the International Rugby Board (IRB) will be classed spineless by me, a stakeholder in the game, if they do not act against this rugby union for bringing the game into shameful disrepute. There is no place for such rugby teams in world rugby. No place for such poor role models. As the governing body the IRB should take a very firm stand against the Samoans. No more excuses of culture and this is the way they play the game. If this is the way Samoa have resolved to play the game, they should play it in their own backyard. The world-class professional outfits should not be subjected to matches where players get ruled out of the contest because of unprofessional physicality.

On the other side of the coin, the former “brutes” of world rugby, the Springboks, have displayed an impeccable disciplinary record for a very long time. The conduct of the Boks on the paddock with this so called Test rugby nation was sensational, sticking to their plan and their focus at all costs. I was happy to see Paul Williams get a red card but am horrified and disgusted that he has reportedly escaped any further punishment. I can assure you that if the situation was reversed, Heinrich Brussow would have been suspended for a few games. The IRB lacks consistency in this department and best get its house in order very smartly. They seem rather more focused on a Western Samoan’s Twitter outburst calling the ref a few names but off-the-play is tolerated as it is “how they play the game”.

I must emphasise my message to Western Samoa, you should travel back to your country of birth with your heads bowed in shame for your childish and disgraceful behaviour. To the Springboks, your professional reaction is acknowledged and long may it continue under future Bok leadership. To the IRB, wake up and smell the coffee. The disciplinary process is inconsistent and weak, get it right. You’re ruining the game I love and the team I support is far too often the victim of this.""

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RE:"Samoans, a disgrace to world rugby" By Greg Hurvitz

(This link will take you to a copy of the original article)

Dear Greg,

Your blog suggests that you're a fanatic when it comes to sports, and a quick squiz of your articles reveal that you cover sport events pretty well. However, you have made an error in not only writing the referred article, but also publishing it online. I respect your attempt to retract the article from your blog, and unfortunately it has been dispersed in various island circles, namely Samoans. (If you familiarised more with Samoan culture beyond the rugby field, you would understand too, that we spread news more efficiently than the African drums)

The tone of your blog seemed to show the biased view towards "Western Samoans" or otherwise you have a strong passion for the sport, I will assume the latter and address this solely.
Firstly, I am not a fanatic as you maybe, but I enjoy a good game, and I enjoyed playing Rugby union many moons ago. The game between the Springboks and the Manu was a good game (please note that I refer to them by their team names, not by the entire nation)
The reference to "physicality" and bringing up Brian Lima and his tackles tempts me to refer to eye-gouging, BURGER and his record of foul-play etc etc. But I won't because I believe you are referring to this game in particular right?

It appears that the frustration and focus on the physicality of the Manu was your blindspot to seeing the tact and strategy that was used against the Springboks. This is evident in the score being a tight 13-5 (Rank 2-Rank 10). For example, when the Manu had the ball, they would pass the ball to the backline on the third or fourth phase, and Census Johnston (tight-head prop) was waiting to receive the ball, and broke the advantage line numerous times, knowing very well that Tuilagi was the marked man. This isn't just physicality, this is intelligently using their physicality. The use of the box kick, drawing in players, speed to the ruck,(and selectively choosing which rucks to counter) the running game, there is so much to list, and all this combined with their "physicality" is a great combination to envy.

In addition, you can not deny that the Manu were hard done-by with the calls from the ref. And furthermore, Springboks slowed the ball down with clever use of hands-in-the-ruck (I personally think it takes skill to get away with that, so props to the Boks for that) and using low tackles to inevitabley force the Manu team to fend lower and as a result falling with ball and having a prepared loose forward on his feet, and ready to turnover the ball. (That is clever play)

This resulted in Paul WILLIAMS hanging onto BRUSSOW, because WILLIAMS knows that BRUSSOW is a champ at pilfering and was frustrated by BRUSSOW slowing the ball. And lets not be sooks, South Africans are tough, and the strike was no more a tickle than a KO punch according to IRB stipulations. (Actually I was quite disappointed to see BRUSSOW pull off a FIFA-Hollywood display).

So let's not discount that the Manu have ability to implement and execute strategic play. They also entered the field to play rugby, just the same as the Springboks did, this fact is undeniable. And to say that the Springboks are physically inferior is a load of hogwash. The Springbok forwards are reputable for being tough-as-nails and stragegising great pick'n'go, maul plays, and they did not look inferior, in fact they matched the physicality. (Just like Wales, Fiji and Namibia did)

There is no need for the IRB to address the style of rugby that the Manu play. Lest I remind you that they beat the Wallabies (by strategy and a touch of physicality), AND they've qualified for the World Cup since day dot. Although I agree with you on the inconsistency, I agree on a completely different platform, especially the resting periods granted to the tier one teams (like the Springboks) in comparison to the tier two and minnow teams.
You are correct in that the Springboks have improved incredibly in discipline(save BURGER) and are an elite team, but to label Manu Samoa's performance as "childish and disgraceful" has to come down to your view of the Springboks through rose-coloured glasses. This statement is as exaggerated as the tweets from SAPOLU are.

IRB do not need to take any action towards Manu Samoas behaviour on the field, they are a professional outfit, with professional players. If any action needs to be taken, it's the treatment of all the teams that are not part of the higher-tier 1-society.

To finish off, I will assume that you are not familiar with Samoan culture. And to refer to the Manu Samoa as "Western Samoa" and "Samoans" implies that you are referring to every person that falls under this category. I was unable to read the 310 comments that I noticed on your article, but I am certain a huge percentage of these comments were from Samoans and consisted of angry remarks, and outburst reactions similar to a WILLIAMS palm which is possibly why the article was removed. But I would encourage you to reassess your views of Samoans because of your perception of the Manu Samoa v Springboks last weekend. Make an attempt to see the game analytically and not as a biased Springboks fan(atic). You appear to have a successful blog, and to circulate this blog in a city and country lacking Samoan representation, I appeal to you to reconsider your views. In fact, try a holiday to Samoa some time, you are more than likely to return as a Manu Samoa fan.