Fired up in support of team

Lily-Ann Etevati (left) and Cecilia Vele sing the Samoan national anthem as the Manu Samoa v All...
Lily-Ann Etevati (left) and Cecilia Vele sing the Samoan national anthem as the Manu Samoa v All Blacks game is projected on to a big screen at the University of Otago yesterday. Photos by Gregor Richardson.
The audience in full cry.
The audience in full cry.
Fenika Olopau performs an impromptu haka.
Fenika Olopau performs an impromptu haka.

The noise summed up the passion as hundreds of Samoan supporters gathered at the University of Otago yesterday, hanging on every minute of a historic rugby test against the All Blacks.

About 200 parochial fans, mostly students, descended on the University Union hall to watch the broadcast from Apia.

The gathering was organised by the university's Pacific Islands Centre and the Otago University Students' Association.

The All Blacks won 25-16.

Emotions ran high as both national anthems were sung pre-match. One fan, second-year surveying student Fenika Olopau, got lost in the moment as he ripped off his shirt and performed an impromptu haka in front of the big screen.

The noise summed up the passion as hundreds of Samoan supporters gathered at the University of Otago yesterday, hanging on every minute of a historic rugby test against the All Blacks.

The noise summed up the passion as hundreds of Samoan supporters gathered at the University of Otago yesterday, hanging on every minute of a historic rugby test against the All Blacks.

Pacific Islands Centre student services manager Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai said Otago had a thriving relationship with the National University of Samoa and that was part of the reason for the event.

''There are 400 Samoan students at Otago and many of the staff at the Samoan university were educated here at Otago.

''[The match] is an historic event so it's important that we pause and watch the game so that the students, too, feel a part of it.''

Otago Polytechnic masters student John Eteuati said he played rugby with Samoa's captain, Ofisa Treviranus, in Apia and knew several other players in the match.

He said ''not in a million years'' did he think he would see the All Blacks travel to Samoa.

''It means a lot for rugby and it means a lot for the next generation of rugby players in Samoa - it gives them something to look forward to.''

damian.george@odt.co.nz

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