Manu Samoa 7s will participate at the Paris Olympics for Rugby 7s for the first time in history after comfortably beating Papua New Guinea 24-0 at the Oceania 7s held at Brisbane’s Ballymore Stadium.
Head Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima’s side looked fit and sharp as they clocked up high scoring wins in all matches over the three days.
The boys in blue did not let a single team score a point against them in five matches.
Manu Samoa vs PNG was 24-0. Manu Samoa beat Cook Is 44-0, American Samoa 52-0, Solomon Islands 50-0 and Tuvalu 36-0.
At 32 years old, captain Vaovasa Afa Sua proves age is just a number as he led his troops to secure Olympic qualification, making it the first time Samoa 7s is represented at an Olympics. Twice our Pacific brothers Fiji have won Gold at Olympics.
Vice Captains Paul Eti Alesana-Slater and Paul Scanlan tag teamed in and out of the field over the 5 games to provide quality leadership to the side – their relentless defense setting an exemplary example for the rest of the team.
Playing their international debuts, Taitaifono “Fono” Senio Tavita of Apia Maroons and Pelasio “Pela” Samuelu Niuula of Tepatasi stepped up to the mark as exciting new additions to the Manu Samoa 7s side.
Joining the team from France to help Samoa qualify, Vaafauese Apelu Maliko showed his usual dominance in attack.
Powerhouse forward Taunuu Niulevaea was a pleasure to watch with his runs down the line, fending off defenders to score multiple tries throughout the weekend.
The ever reliable Motu Opetai showcased his ability to secure balls and feed his team mates with precision offloads.
Also exciting to see is the return of Elisapeta Alofipo to international 7s rugby for Samoa. Elisapeta showed he still has his ability to create space from nothing at all.
Forwards BJ Retzlaff Lima and Faamaoni “Ata” Lalomilo were solid impact players when they came off the bench, and got the job done when given the opportunity to start. Lalomilo proving to be a nuisance to opposing sides at rucks. Retzlaff-Lima displaying his high level ability to read the game during flow-of-play.
Tepatasi’s Faafoi Falaniko provided several options for coaches selection with his ability to play any position in the backline.
Speaking to the media at the end of the match, Vice Captain Paul Eti Alesana-Slater gave back the glory to God and thanked the tapuaiga of Samoa both at home and around the globe, as well as family and friends in Brisbane who showed up in blue to give their support.
“First of all thanks and glory to the Lord. We could not have done this without the support of our family and friends who have stood with us all the way..”
Alesana-Slater said the road to Paris is still a long way away and a lot of hard work yet to come.
“I think its just the beginning.. the hard work starts now, ” he says with a smile to the camera.
Samoa will now play New Zealand in the final of the 2023 Oceania Rugby 7s Championship.
Update: Samoa led NZ at halftime, and at full time the score was levelled at 19-19. Ata argued In extra time during sudden Vaafauese Apelu Maliko attempts a chip n chase that went wrong and the ball found its way into the hands ogatotonu a NZ player who gased down the middle of the field for the winning try.