How come Samoa is not playing in the Rugby Championship?
Hey, wait a minute, how come Samoa is not playing in the Rugby Championship?
Watching the All Blacks go through the paces against Argentina this afternoon in La Plata, this column is reminded, and for those who don’t know, Samoa has beaten Argentina three times in four test matches including a 28-12 drubbing in Buenos Aires in 2005.
But you wouldn’t know that as Argentina has consistently been ranked in the top ten - or even top five – teams in the world the last 15 or so years. This while Samoa is deemed a second tier side.
No disrespect to Argentina. They are very passionate about their rugby and have a long and colourful rugby history. Their inclusion also in the Rugby Championship is merited with some good performances over the years as well as, ideal in spreading the rugby gospel in that vast country and the wider South American continent. That is what we all want.
But what about Samoa?
We have a better win-loss record to Argentina and in the last 18 months, clobbered the Wallabies in Sydney and ran the Springboks to the wire at the World Cup last year. Doesn’t it deserve a possible mention as a possible Rugby Championship side in the future?
From a Samoan point of view, the envy is that Argentina will be a better rugby side in the future now that it will play regularly at this level and the enormous funding boost from the IRB that is coming with it.
Where does that leave Samoa?
Samoa too will like to enjoy these benefits Argentina is getting. Samoa is not unaware of its disadvantages, particularly in the business aspect of the game. A small population (just 180,000 people), a small economy and like what Argentina is going through, trying to get professional players released from their European clubs for test matches.
But the country is teeming with rugby talent and has consistently punched above its weight. Based on results alone, we should be the fourth nation in this exciting Rugby Championship setup. It is only fair.