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‘Hard feeling to explain’: Sa Jordan Taufua on ‘unreal’ World Cup ‘opportunity’

By Finn Morton
Sa Jordan Taufua of Samoa poses for a portrait during the Samoa Rugby World Cup 2023 Squad photocall on September 05, 2023 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

As the tension continued to build ahead of a decisive World Cup clash last month, thousands of rugby fans fell silent for a moment as Samoa and Argentina prepared for their national anthems.


Banded together as brothers-in-arms, the Samoan players sang The Banner of Freedom with passion, pride and exuberance.

Samoa had opened their World Cup campaign with a dominant 43-10 win over Chile in Bordeaux, but this Test against Los Pumas in Saint-Etienne shaped up as a must-win clash. There was a lot riding on the Pool D showdown, and fans could feel it inside Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium.

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Sa Jordan Taufua placed his hand over the Samoan team badge in a gesture of emotion and pride as the backrower began to reflect. In his own words, “It’s a hard feeling to explain.”

Four years ago, Taufua left New Zealand’s shores after becoming the first Pacific Islander to play 100 games for the champion Crusaders. Taufua had been called up to the All Blacks on one occasion but never debuted in the Test arena.

Taufua, now 31, was lost to New Zealand rugby and seemingly the international game. The backrower signed a deal with Leicester Tigers in England and later Lyon in France.

But it wasn’t until last year that Taufua finally entered the fray of international rugby. The former Samoan U20s representative debuted at Test level against Pacific Island rivals Tonga during the Pacific Nations Cup, with Taufua named to start at No. 8.

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It was on that day – the 9th of July 2022 – that Taufua’s Rugby World Cup dream became “real” once again. More than one year later, that goal became a reality against Chile and Argentina.

“I think for me it’s more for my parents and my family and my culture,” Taufua told RugbyPass after the 19-10 loss to Argentina.

“I didn’t think I’d get an opportunity to play for Samoa, or even playing in a Rugby World Cup, but I’m taking the opportunity with both hands. The opportunity to be here today, it’s unreal.

“It’s just awesome to give back to a small nation like ours and it’s the people’s team so that’s the best thing about playing for this team.


“It became real on my debut game playing for Samoa in the (Pacific Nations Cup) last year so that’s when it became real because when you step into an international team or an environment you’re pretty much gunning for the World Cup.

“That’s when my World Cup dream started with Samoa. To be here today, it’s unreal.”

As the clock continued to tick ever closer to the 5.45 pm kick-off between Samoa and the Pumas, Taufua had a lot to think about. Taufua hadn’t been on this rugby journey alone.


Friends, family and loved ones had helped Taufua reach the heights of the Rugby World Cup. So when the national anthem started to play, they were the people he was thinking about.

“What got me here today is mum and dad and my family and all their prayers to help me become the man I am today,” Taufua added.

“Nothing but love and emotions. When the game is bigger than yourself, that’s when it really hits you.

“It’s a hard feeling to explain when you’re singing the Samoan anthem for myself because we can stand on the shoulders of giants of the game of rugby.”


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