Samoa waited, but did not miss their entry into the running. More than a week after the start of the World Cup, the Pacific players finally took to the pitch to play – and win – their first match of the competition, Saturday September 16, against Chile (43-10). In a packed Bordeaux stadium, and under the gaze of South African stars Cheslin Kolbe, Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth, Manu Samoa experienced great difficulties at the start of the match, then managed to break free in the second act to score five tries, and thus pocket the offensive bonus point.

In an open Group D (also made up of England, Argentina and Japan), Seilala Mapusua’s men could be one of the surprises of the competition, and have prepared for their tournament by… a wave of recruitment. A new rule from World Rugby, the international federation, allows players who have not been selected for three years to be called up to another national team, provided they have at least one grandparent born in the country. country in question. This change greatly benefited Samoa, who swelled their ranks with three ex-New Zealanders: flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, third row Steven Luatua and prop Charlie Faumuina.

Despite this added value, Clermontois Fritz Lee and his teammates had a lot of difficulty really getting into the game. Their Siva tau (dance performed before a match, in the same way as the New Zealand haka) had barely finished, the Samoas already had the unpleasant surprise of seeing Chilean prop Matias Dittus flatten a forceful try following a breakthrough by opener Rodrigo Fernandez (10th).

Samoa accelerated in the second half

As against Japan last week (42-12 defeat), Los Condores started the match well and did well, as they participated in a Rugby World Cup for the first time in their history. They were even still in the lead in the 35th minute on Saturday, but ultimately slowed down as the minutes passed. More physically solid, their opponents took the opportunity to make a first gap just before returning to the locker room, with a try from Toulon center Duncan Paia’aua (40th, 19-10).

The following ? A second period that was almost one-sided, during which the Samoan rear largely gained the upper hand over their counterparts. The third row Fritz Lee (47th), then the hooker Sama Malolo twice (52nd and 80th) tried to increase the gap of a victory which took time to take shape. The Samoa staff will be able to be satisfied with this success, but will probably work a lot on discipline before the next meeting, against Argentina, Friday September 22: against Chile, Mano Samoa made nine mistakes, conceding in passing two yellow cards.

If Samoa defeat the Pumas next week, they could then really start to dream of qualifying for the quarter-finals, a stage of the competition they have not reached since 1995. In the meantime, their victory against the Chile allows them to take the lead in Group D.