Local Name: Samoa
Team Name: Toa Samoa
Nicknames: Samoan Warriors
Colours: White and Blue
Inaugurated: 1986 (as Western Samoa), 1997 (as Samoa)
First WC Appearance: 1995 (as Western Samoa)
No. Of RLWC Titles: 0
Governing Body: Rugby League Samoa
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Samoa Rugby League
Formally known as Western Samoa within Rugby League circles, the Samoan Rugby League team can boast a strong line up including stars from both the NRL and Super League making them a dangerous opponent for any International Rugby League team.
The Samoa Rugby League team have developed a reputation for playing the game with not only flair but with ‘big hit’s which always makes them popular with natural fans.
Since playing in their first ever International competition at the 1988 Pacific Cup in which they reached the final, the Samoan’s have been one of the success stories of world Rugby League and they have caught the imagination of rugby fans with their all or nothing displays at the World Cup and in the 4 Nations.
Having made their first ever appearance at a Rugby League World Cup in 1995 it was just 5 years later they reached the World Cup quarter finals before been defeated by New Zealand.
Toa Samoa’s reputation and standing as a test side has been boosted by their performances in the 4 Nations, the RLWC and in one of Test Matches as part of the Pacific Test Series, were they were even chosen by England as a warm up for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
The Samoan’s home ground is Apia Park, a 15,000 capacity multi sports venue in the Samoan capital of Apia and it was at this venue that the Samoans recorded their biggest victory with a 0-76 win over New Caledonia in 2004.
Samoa can call upon a host of Super League and NRL players thanks in part to a number of heritage players and also thanks to the number of Samoans who move to Australia and New Zealand and who have then grown up in the sport from a young age.
That makes for a high quality and passionate group of players who have the quality to take on and defeat anybody on their day.
Colours and Kit
The Samoan kit does change form time to time but their playing colours tend to feature a predominately white shirt, shorts, and socks with touches of blue throughout, although there can be more or less blue on their kit from tournament to tournament.
Whilst Samoa have not won a major international tournament, they have enjoyed some success at smaller tournaments including winning the 1990 and 1992 Pacific Cup.
They have reached the knock out stages of the RLWC on a number of occasions and they also qualified for the 2014 4 nations and they have also enjoy success against a Great Britain touring side.
The level of talent that has featured for Samoa down the years can match all but the top 3 countries, so it is somewhat surprising that they haven’t been able to put together consistent levels of performance but that is probably down to the irregular international calendar as much as anything.
Amongst the biggest names and top stars to have played for Samoa, or Western Samoa, down the years have included Anthony Milford, Leeson Ah Mau, Ben Roberts, George Carmont, Antonio Winterstein, Roy Asotasi, Monty Betham, Henry Fa’afili, David Faiumu, Harrison Hansen, Ali Lauiti’iti, Kylie Leuluai, Jeff Lima, Francis Meli, Joseph Paulo, Willie Poching, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Jerry Seu Seu, David Solomona, Misi Taulapapa, Ben Te’o, Joe Vagana, Nigel Vagana, Mason Lino and Frank Wintersein.
The early year of Samoan Rugby League developed outside of the country in New Zealand when the quality of players with Samoan heritage and who had moved to New Zealand from Samoa and played the sport in the local competitions
As Western Samoa, the country made their international bow in the 1986 Pacific Cup, when they lost to a strong NZ Maori side.
The representative side for Samoa continued to be run out of New Zealand and based on local talent for much of its early existence but that was soon to change as in 1992, they faced Tonga in an incredible game that highlighted the talent out on the field and grabbed the attention of many scouts and clubs across the Tasman Sea in the sports powerhouse of Australia.
That led to players getting full time contracts at top clubs and the national side were invited to more international tournaments including the 1993 International Sevens held in Sydney.
The country continued to excel in the Pacific Cup into the new Millennium and they made a name for themselves son the global stage at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup when they defeated France by 56-10 on their debut.
They also qualified, as Samoa, for the 200 World Cup where they made it out of the group stage before suffering a heavy defeat to the giants of Australia.
Since then, Samoa have gone on to be a regular in the knock-out stages and they qualified for the 2014 4 Nations and with the talent that they have at their disposal, Toa Samoa are always a danger for anybody they face and are a great team to watch for all neutrals.
The team always play with passion and their opening war dance is always one of the highlights of a international tournament.