FATIALOFA FOREVER

Today will hopefully be the last horribly humid day of the year. However, I did say that last week…and the week before that. The Japanese summer takes no prisoners; just stepping outside or sitting at home will leave you dripping in sweat. The temperature hasn’t dropped below 20 in months. But now it’s over…hopefully.

In the rugby yesterday, Wales delivered a sensational first half performance, running in four tries to put the match to bed early. Georgia managed to tie the second half thanks to a couple of tries of their own, but it proved to be little more than a consolation.

Today, Russia are back in action, just four days after they opened the World Cup against Japan. This kind of scheduling is disappointing, as you are only really supposed to play rugby once a week on medical grounds.

Aside from the health considerations, it’s also a big disadvantage to the team forced into this schedule and Japan were the most obvious victims of this at the last World Cup.

After their legendary victory over South Africa, they only had four days to recover before their other crunch game against Scotland, which unsurprisingly ended in a heavy defeat.

England will also be affected on Thursday and they have already announced that they will be making 10 changes to their starting 15.

Hopefully, more thought will go into the scheduling of the next tournament.

Russia would be unlikely to beat Samoa in any case, however. Samoa, or Western Samoa as they were called back in 1991, were a big reason I got into rugby during the first World Cup I watched.

One of the most enduring memories I have of the tournament is of their surprise victory over Wales that qualified them for the last eight.

Peter Fatialofa (Fats) was the captain of the team back then and, quite fantastically, specialised in moving pianos when he wasn’t on the pitch. With his enormous frame it wasn’t hard to see why.

On searching what he was up to today, I was saddened to discover that he had passed away at the age of 54 in 2013. Happily, he had been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by the Queen prior to that in 1996.

This year, he was posthumously inducted into World Rugby’s Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to the man.

RIP Papali’itele Peter Momoe Fatialofa.

Yesterday’s Matches
Wales 43-14 Georgia (Toyota Stadium, Toyota)

Today’s Match
Russia vs Samoa (1915 JST) (Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya)

Expression of the day
蒸し暑いですね (mushi atsui desu ne)
Which means…
It’s rather humid, wouldn’t you say?

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