Today in History 6 November 2013: The Legendary Papalii Peter “Fats” Passes Away


6 November 2013: Papali’itele Peter Momoe Fatialofa MNZM, World Rugby Hall of Famer born 26 April 1959 passed away in Samoa on Wednesday 6 November 2013.

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The legendary Manu Samoa rugby player captained Samoa in their first Rugby World Cup appearance in 1991.

Affectionately known as “Fats” – Papalii was among the first of the New Zealand-based players to represent Samoa.

In the 1996 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Fatialofa was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to rugby.

In 2019, Fatialofa was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, alongside Richie McCaw, Shiggy Konno, Os du Randt, Sir Graham Henry, and Diego Ormaechea.

His wife Anne and his son Jeremiah attended the special ceremony to receive the prestigious award at the Prince Park Tower in Tokyo the day after the Rugby World Cup finals on November 3rd 2019.

Anne Papalii Fatialofa with their 8 children.

“A prouder individual never wore the Samoan Jersey than the man affectionately known in rugby circles as Fats”, read the World Rugby tribute.

Samoa’s rugby team has not been able to move past the pool stages of a rugby world cup since the era that was captained by Papaliitele in the back-to-back quarter finals of 1991 and 1995.

Fatialofa began his senior rugby career in Auckland playing for the Grafton Club as a 19-year-old[4] in the Auckland Senior B competition. He transferred to the Ponsonby club in 1981, winning the Gallaher Shield eight times with that team between 1981 and 1995.[5] He played 72 representative games for Auckland and was part of their Ranfurly Shield reign from 1985 to 1993. In the late 80s and in the early 90s, he also played for Modena Rugby and L’Aquila Rugby in Italy.[6][7][8]

Rugby Career

Fats debuted for Samoa against Ireland in a test match on 29 October in their 1988 tour of Wales and Ireland. He first captained Samoa in 1989 and led them at the 1991 Rugby World Cup. Samoa made the RWC quarterfinal that year and lost to Scotland in the quarter-finals 28–6.

Fatialofa last played for Samoa against Fiji in Suva on 20 July 1996. Fats: Peter Fatialofa and the Manu Samoa Story an autobiography was published and released the same year.

The Manu Samoa rugby Captain left his mark on the international rugby community and the hearts of the Samoan people, and rugby fans across the globe.

Ten years on his friends and family remember his larger than life personality that impacted everyone who came to.know him.

Fats was survived by his beautiful wife Anne Papalii Fatialofa and their eight children: Jeremiah, Vaivasa, I’talia, Courtney, Manu, Shelby, Giovanni and Robert-Alan and Fats’ older daughter Janice.

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