Manu Samoa, Denotation & Implication: A pictorial essay

Grandiose, I get it. But this stuff is serious for me and the thousands of Manu Samoa fans who are praying, cheering and longing for a favorable result for their team. I’m often asked why I’m so fanatical about Samoa’s team and why they mean so much to a tiny island nation situated smack dab in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.

Contemplating a response, I found these moving, evocative photos of the team illuminating. I use them here as compassionate companions to my scarce narrative.


Represent – They carry the hopes of a nation. They are our ambassadors on one of the world’s biggest stage. Even before they take the field they have felt the weight of an ardent, adoring nation. From subsistence farmers, fishermen and homemakers to professionals and educators, these men, who wear the flag and colors of Samoa, know what it means to bear the burden of expectation.


Pride – It is embedded in the hearts and minds of every young Samoan. When we prepare to leave home for a day, for a week, for a lifetime, for a moment, the words of our elders ring clear: Remember the name you carry. Remember where you come from. The way your carry yourself, your speech is a reflection of your family; your people. There is no monetary gain and there are no great rewards, only the pride in bringing a tiny nation level with the major powers on the planet if only for a few blissful, fleeting moments.


Courage – It is the hallmark of our character. When you are faced with adversity and doubt begins to fray your edges there is only one way to go and that is forward. Stand your ground, stare your adversary in the eye, square your shoulders and charge into the fight. If I cannot conquer the world, at the very least the world will know that I did my very best at slaying my fears.

Perseverance – No one really remembers how you started the race but everyone will remember how you finished. Great teams battle through hardship and our boys have seen a lot of that over the years. Some adversity comes from within, most of it comes from without; but the best solutions for any trials can be found in the space that exists between your ears and the eat that resonates from your chest. The rest is up to you.


Flair – We are nothing without exuberance. The challenge is containing our passion but containing it stifles our creativity and our imagination for opportunity. Yes, there is power in our limbs and the pace in our feet is equaled only by the emotion in which we live each moment.


Unity – That’s all


Posted in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, Family, Fatherhood, Life, Pacific Islander, Parenting, Polynesia, Rugby, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tonga vs Georgia – A rumble worth watching

It’s only the second game of the Rugby World Cup and already I’m complaining about the officiating. But seriously, if you watched the same game I saw between the home team, England taking on the always entertaining Fijians than you know that South Africa referee Jaco Peyper and his crew were well off the mark. I mean, if the referee becomes more visible than the game itself than you know something is off, right?

Nigel Owens’ job will not be any easier as he sets out to officiate what will be a brutal encounter between Tonga and Georgia. The two sides are known for the physicality and punch up’s. Pundits often jibe and sneer when a Pacific Islander team takes the pitch and more than enough of the commentary during a broadcast will be devoted to the ill-discipline from Samoa or Fiji or Tonga. What may surprise most people who are not Polynesian is the team that lacks the most discipline is the team that will face Tonga tomorrow.

Georgia leads the field of combatants in the yellow cards column with an unbelievable tally of 48 yellow cards across the team. Meanwhile Tonga, a team that many would say is prone to the sort of thing that nowadays could lead to hefty fines and suspensions, have less than half of that total with just 22. Regardless, the Tongans will relish the physical nature of the Georgian attack simply because, well, we Polynesians love being physical.

But Tonga will not look past Georgia either but will look to fine tune their attack and defense against a team that they have beaten twice and narrowly lost to once back in 1999, when most of the Tongan team were still school boys. I predict that Tonga will be the victors so long as they are tactical, clinical and calm under the relentless pressure from Georgia especially up front. The calming presence of veterans Kurt Morath, Vungakoto Lilo and captain Nili Latu will help settle boys for a long 80-minutes of fierce rugby but it will be the emergence of young stars like Will Helu and Siale Piutau that will carry Tonga to victory and hopefully beyond Pool C.

Tonga v Georgia RWC2015

Posted in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, Family, Fatherhood, Life, Pacific Islander, Parenting, Rugby, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rugby World Cup 2015: Pool B – All Blacks, that’s all

Will Keven Mealamu and his All Black teammates dominate again in 2015?

Will Keven Mealamu and his All Black teammates dominate again in 2015?

If you’re Argentina, Namibia, Georgia or Tonga if you’ve been wondering for years now what it will take to topple the mighty All Blacks. With a Rugby World Cup historical winning percentage of 86% and the title of reigning world champs as well as berth as number one in the world for who can even remember how long now, the All Blacks are in a class of their own.

Argentina has pushed them farther than any other team in this pool but Tonga want a real shot a shocking New Zealand and the world if they can just keep their heads about them and play a perfect game. Tonga, Georgia and Namibia will all have to be spot on in the tournament if they are going to wrestle away the second seat to the quarterfinal rounds from Argentina, a side that has shown the power and pace to keep them in the top tier nations along with the other big boys of rugby.

Georgia’s lack of resources and ill-discipline have kept them from really progressing on the international stage. This is a relatively young side which means they also lack the depth and experience to draw from when playing top sides like Argentina and New Zealand. At the very best, they may steal one from Tonga or Namibia but they’ll be lucky to crack the try line against superior defensive teams in the Pumas and All Blacks.

This is yet another world cup for the All Blacks to lose. They have shown time and time again since the last world cup that they are the team to beat. The mixture of young, raw talent in the backs and the steady, veteran presence in the forward pack means that other teams will have to pray that New Zealand makes mistakes if there to have any chance of derailing the All Blacks championship train.

Pool C by the numbers:

  • New Zealand is by far the most experienced side with an average of 47 test matches per player and a combined team total of 1,464 international matches.
  • Namibia woefully inexperienced with an average of just 16 international test matches per player and a combined total of 510 international matches for the team.
  • New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has played in a whopping 142 matches since he began his international career in 2001. Compare that to McCaw’s teammate Waisake Naholo who has only played one (1) test match in his fledgling career. Namibia’s Damian Stevens & Wian Conradie also have just one match apiece before walking out onto the biggest stage in rugby.
  • Remember when I said Georgia suffers from ill-discipline? How about 48 yellow cards and 3 red cards worth? Viktor Kolelishvili is the biggest culprit with a haul of five yellow cards and two red cards in seven years of international rugby. How is this guy still playing?
  • Can Tonga and Nili Latu battle their way into a quarterfinals berth?

    Can Tonga and Nili Latu battle their way into a quarterfinals berth?

    Georgia makes Namibia look like ballet dancers with just 12 yellow cards spread out amongst the team

  • The most red cards? Do I really need to spell it out? Georgia (3)
  • New Zealand’s super duo, Daniel Carter and Ma’a Nonu tie for the most tries in the pool with 29 each
  • Daniel Carter (NZ) has also scored the most points in Pool C with a personal tally of 1,516 since he started his international career in 2003.
  • Georgia and Namibia are the youngest sides with an average player age of 26 years.
  • Tonga, like their island cousins Samoa, has the oldest side with an average player age of 29 years.
  • Vasil Lobzhanidze (Georgia) is the youngest player in Pool C at the tender age of 18 years.
  • At 37 years of age, Tonga’s Nili Latu is the old battle ax in Pool C
  • Georgia’s Vazha Khutsishvili is the shortest guy in the pool measuring in at the miniscule rugby height of 5’4″.
  • There’s plenty of tall timber in Pool C with guys like Joseph Tuineau (Tonga), Brodie Retallick (NZ), and Mariano Galarza all standing tall at 6’7″.
  • Namibia’s AJ De Klerk and Tonga’s Paula Ngauamo are the heaviest in Pool C weighing in at 282 lbs apiece.
  • Georgia’s Vazha Khutsishvili needs more cake. He is the lightweight in the pool weighing a lean 161 lbs
Posted in Blogging, Culture, Family, Health, Life, Pacific Islander, Parenting, Rugby, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment