Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Manu v. Namibia

“Are you from Namibia?” a man asked me as I was fighting my way to the front of the ticket mob, pushing and shoving to get our tickets for the 4pm ferry. “No, Go Manu!” was my reply! This was to the be the boat-ride of the year, for boarding time was 3:20 and the Manu Samoa were set to play their first rugby match against Namibia at 3:30. Wearing my blue shirt for support I rushed onto the boat at 3:20 to join the crowd gathered in the air-conditioned area of “the big boat.” This ferry is new to Samoa, beginning its operation just last year and boasting two flat screen TVs inside the air-conditioned cabin. Of course, it was the place to be for the match. The seats quickly filled and in no time at all we were watching the players march solemnly into the stadium in New Zealand. The Samoan national anthem was played and a few patriotic Samoans sang along on the boat. Next the Namibian anthem was played, and then we got the show we were all waiting for. The Samoans took the field and performed their traditional war dance, the haka. The boat went crazy as the men chanted and slapped their arms and chests! And then the game began and I remembered that I do not understand rugby. But there was hope! Sitting behind me was a man from New Zealand calling out all of the terms and thus educating my American sporting mind. I found myself really getting into the excitement of the match. Number 11, can’t remember his name, was unstoppable and scored almost all of the teams touches. The kicker was also precise and the whole team just stunned me with their athleticism. I had to feel sorry for Namibia as the game wore on, for they were just towered over by the powerful Samoan team. A controversial play that was particularly memorable was seeing one Manu player practically “clothesline” a Namibian player – at it was considered fair play! Wow, rugby is an intense game! The match was a sweep and at the end of the brutal game, Samoa walked away the victors, having scored 48 points to Namibia’s… zero. Next match is set for Friday, and as long as my schedule allows, I will be on the ferry cheering on the Manu!

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