Wednesday 7 December 2016

Visitors an irrelevant sideshow

Published 12/11/2010 | 05:00

Blink in case you miss it. Samoa are in town, an inconvenient if beefy sandwich for the established 'home nations' to gobble up in between the tastier, more satisfying main courses provided by South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

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The Samoans -- "we like to call ourselves the Irish of the Pacific", says team manager Matthew Vaea -- will pitch up at a half-full and half-interested, wet and windy Aviva Stadium and detain us for a couple of hours tomorrow.

Then they will move on but, unlike New Zealand or South Africa, without wheelbarrows of cash for their efforts.

While Ireland enjoy a cosy relationship with their Tri Nations mates, Samoa are an inconvenience -- a fixture to fill up an already over-flowing diary, allowing the team to rotate players between the real games, knowing that they won't have to deign to touch down in Samoa's capital, Apia, any time soon.

Well, not if the IRFU can help it. But Ireland are not alone in looking down on the poor relations of what the IRB fancifully claims is a "global game".

Rugby remains a closed shop. Samoa will charm us with their big hits and fancy flicks and may well, like neighbours Fiji and Tonga, raise the broadest smiles of the next World Cup.

But they will quietly shuffle from the scene before being patted condescendingly on the head. In reality, they are a pebble in the shoe of the established nations.

Samoa don't help themselves, however. They pitched up in Dublin without a press officer to plead their case, and their captain and coach had to be asked to introduce themselves to the pitiful media attendance.

Their chief executive, Peter Schuster, also recently had to deflect criticism after the IRB, who fund the Samoans to the tune of £400,000 annually, issued a scathing critique of the Union's spending decisions.

Irish Independent

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