In the approach to the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC), it is with the utmost respect that for the Manu Samoa RWC preparation, they will face a New Zealand Heartland XV team.
Samoa is one of 20 sides qualified for the World Rugby tournament in Japan. A proud rugby nation, a leader of the Pacifica community, with a large fanbase in New Zealand – especially in Auckland. They are fan favorites across the world and are an International class team.
Playing this weekend in a ‘Pasifika Challenge’ double-header, Manu Samoa play in the opening match ahead of the Fiji v Tonga fixture. The two matches are set to entertain rugby fans at Eden Park, as much for the razzle-dazzle style of Pacifica rugby, but also recognizing the respect between all the competing sides.
Who’s excited that Eden Park will host Pasifika Challenge II The Road to Japan on 31 August where Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and NZ Heartland XV will go into battle ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan?#PasifikaChallenge #RoadToJapan #GrowTheGame #AucklandRugby#edenparknz pic.twitter.com/i6UGMGtiFP
— Eden Park, Auckland (@edenparknz) June 12, 2019
A factor in why the Heartland XV have been selected to meet Samoa is the mutual respect due to the measure that New Zealand rugby is held. This will be a real ‘test’ for Samoa before they meet Australia in a full International next weekend. However, this Saturday’s clash will also be a fitting recognition for the two sides’ respect for the recent passing of Sir Brian Lochore.
The All Black legend was instrumental in helping to underline the Heartland Rugby Championship. Where the players for the representative Heartland XV are drawn from. Lochore played in an era where his relationship with Sir Bryan Willaims was one of the foremost players of Pacifica family history, that broke new ground.
With Manu Samoa RWC preparation needing to find the best competition after their recent Pacific Nations Cup experience. They will meet a group of players that have ‘everything to play for’.
Manu Samoa RWC preparation includes Heartland XV ‘test’
Their opposition may not be of the caliber of their Rugby World Cup pool opponents. However, the Heartland XV will have the same passion of either Ireland, Scotland, Russia, or RWC hosts Japan. What they do have is raw enthusiasm, pure love for the game, and respect to face Samoa as competitors and as equals.
That is exactly what New Zealand Heartland XV coach Mark Rutene said about his players. They are all excited about the challenge ahead of them, before their biggest assignment ever, in Auckland this weekend.
“Opportunities like this don’t come around every day. We are calling this our test match, it’s the biggest game our Heartland team has played. It’s against a passionate and proud international side and it’s at Eden Park. Both teams can look forward to that.”
As well as the Samoa v Heartland XV game, the second clash is just as engaging for the local fans. Fiji play Tonga, and each nation’s fans will bring their colour, song, and faith. That alone will be a sight, as it was in the Rugby League World Cup last year.
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Our Fiji Airways Flying Fijians will play Ikale Tahi Tonga in their final warm up match before the Rugby World Cup in the Kiwibank Pasifika Challenge. Double Header test match rugby in Auckland! 📅 31 August 🏟 Eden Park ⏱ 4.30pm Tickets at https://bit.ly/2Xi7zrs #itsfijistime 🇫🇯🇫🇯
No matter the result, the three teams will gain plenty from the Pasifika Challenge. The Manu Samoa RWC campaign, along with that of Tonga and Fiji, is one more step closer to it’s ‘end game’. It will be Fiji’s last warmup match ahead of the World Cup, although Tonga will face the All Blacks in Hamilton on Sept. 7 while Samoa play the Wallabies in Sydney on the same day.
Classic try highlights for Manu Samoa
30 years ago today Samoa were playing Bridgend on a tour of Wales and their prop Vili Alaalatoa went on a 40 metre rampage from an old fashioned "wall" set piece move to create a try for Lafaele Mano. Both of Alaalatoa's sons now play professional rugby also as tighthead props. pic.twitter.com/WhgSP2zs7u
— Tier 2 Rugby (@T2Rugby) October 22, 2018
From the early days, Western Samoa and the Manu were highly entertaining. While over time, professionalism has set new standards, the side still knows how to bring fans up on to their feet, with their high tempo action. At a Rugby World Cup, it just makes the audience’s reaction only that much larger.
At Eden Park on Saturday afternoon, the proud history of Manu Samoa continues. Playing against the Heartland XV is perfect preparations, as it will be for Fiji and for Tonga.
Look forward to highlights to be played on sports news and rugby sites after the Pasifika Challenge. It will be fast, it will be hard-hitting and ‘off the charts’. All teams showing respect for their opponents, for Pacifica Rugby, and demonstrating what important members of the global game, these nations all are.
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