While most Irish eyes were fixed on the Aviva Stadium on Saturday as Declan Kidney’s side hammered Argentina, one Cork man’s focus was solely on Paris and Samoa’s bid to topple France.
Michael Deasy was not being unpatriotic, merely professional, given his role as a strength and conditioning coach at the Samoan Rugby Union and head S&C coach at the SRU Academy.
Aged 24, from Kilbrittain, Co Cork, Deasy has been based in the Samoan capital, Apia, for two and half years, having joined the SRU following his graduation with a sports science degree from UL. He’s loving every minute of it and happily witnessed the outpouring of joy that followed Samoa’s upset of Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales in Cardiff recently.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” Deasy said.
“The performance and especially with the history against Wales, when the boys beat them in ’91 and ’95 and then last year’s World Cup and the bad feeling because of that loss. But for these boys, it’s fantasy stuff. They’re overjoyed and you saw the emotions after the game, guys were breaking down they were so happy. And there really is dancing in the streets here. There’s guys here in Apia who paint themselves blue and run up and down the streets, there’s flags sticking out of windows, these people go crazy when Manu Samoa comes to town and when they’re on TV; everything stops. It’s a religion in this country.”
The victory over Wales will gave Samoan rugby a huge boost, Deasy believes, and may also help the strength and conditioning staff in Apia get their shopping list for new gym equipment approved by the International Rugby Board. The Samoans moved into a new High Performance Facility a year ago but had to bring their old equipment with them and while it is perfectly adequate, some fresh kit would not go amiss, the Corkman said.
“Some of the equipment goes back but some of it’s still really good and we’ve had teams over, like Scotland this year and the Australia sevens team and they say our gym is one of the best they’ve ever been in.
“The facilities are awesome, we’ve got two full pitches, a full gym and accommodation for the players so they can camp here. There’s an administration block as well in the facility whereas in the old set-up the admin was halfway across town.
“So anyone who’s serious about their rugby comes here to Apia, from the other islands and they live here in the city.”
With many Samoan players plying their trade at European clubs, the perception might be that joining up with their national team might be a bit of a comedown in terms of facilities but Deasy refutes that.
“The one thing about the Samoan players, they’re island boys and they’re very grateful for everything they have. And you only have to say ‘please guys’ and they’ll bring something over we can’t get on the islands, like protein powder or something like that.
“For the boys that’s no problem at all. They’ll go to their club’s strength and conditioning coaches and ask for stuff to bring back and these guys, you can’t say enough about them.”
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