His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi welcoming the Welsh Rugby Union President Dennis Gethin at his home, Tuaefu this morning
BY Gerwin Polu
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 20 JUNE 2017: His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi greeted the Welsh Rugby Union President and team management at his home, Tuaefu with the warmest of welcomes.
“When you enter my home, you are home,” his Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese told the visiting Welsh Rugby Union President Dennis Gethin and team members this morning.
Ahead of the tenth clash between the two rugby sides at Apia Park this Friday evening, His Highness referred to the very close relationship between the two teams and unions.
Samoa was snubbed for an incident during a rugby match in Hawaii and ruled out of the inaugural World Cup in New Zealand in 1987.
But it was the Welsh that was the very first Tier One rugby team to tour and played a test against Samoa at Apia Park in 1988 and helped Samoa’s journey to some form of recognition. A young Michael Jones played for Samoa in that test and the team that ran out of steam towards the end and ultimately lost 32-14.
Reeling still from the exclusion in 1987, Samoa embarked on a journey to rejuvenate its game with an unprecedented tour of the northern hemisphere as it prepared its bid for the 1991 world cup. Samoa played Wales again in Cardiff on that tour and a young flanker from Lefaga, Saini Lemamea became the second Samoan to score at Cardiff Arms Park behind the legendary Bryan Williams playing for the All Blacks.
Ironically, it was at the expense of the Welsh that Samoa made its grand entry and emphatically announced its arrival on the global stage as a rugby force with its famous 16-13 victory against the Welsh at Cardiff Arms Park at the 1991 World Cup.
Since that day, the Welsh came back to play and lost in Samoa and the teams had played nine times with the scale tilting on Wales side by one.
This Friday’s test will see if all is squared as history speaks loudly of the remarkable Welsh contribution to Samoan rugby as Samoa tries yet again to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
This was the spirit and warmth that the Head of State welcomed the President of the Welsh Rugby Union Dennis Gethin and the team management at his home this morning.
Gifts of a bracelets containing gold from a distant era of Roman rule of Britain was presented to His Highness. In exchange, Gethin was presented books telling the stories and history of Samoa struggles towards political independence.
WRU President Dennis Gethin thanked His Highness and the whole country for the invitation and hospitality.
“In the warmth of your welcome, we found that your birthday, the 1st of March is the same as the birthday of the Patron Saint of Wales, Saint David.”
Catholics. Yet another connection.