What makes Samoa’s pool exit so ‘disappointing’

After failing to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals for the fourth time in six events, Samoa appear all but certain to battle it out at SVNS Madrid for a core status place in next season’s Series.

Following the season’s seventh stop in Singapore next month, the top eight sides in each of the men’s and women’s Series will compete for HSBC SVNS championship glory. As for the other four teams, they will need to fight to stay on the international circuit.

Those ranked ninth through to 12 will join the top four sides from the Challenger Series at the home of Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid to determine which four teams earn core status for the 2024/25 campaign.

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Unfortunately for Samoa, it seems that their hopes for SVNS Series glory are over. At the time of writing, Samoa are 12 points behind the USA on the Series standings but the Eagles are off to the quarter-finals.

So, after a winless run in pool play at the Hong Kong Sevens, the Pacific Islanders appear set to compete for survival in the Madrid play-off tournament.

“I back these boys any day of the week. Like I said, we have the team to win any competition, we just haven’t been able to put the performance together to be able to do that,” Samoa’s BJ Telefoni Lima told RugbyPass after their final pool match in Hong Kong China.

“If that is what happens, we do end up going down to play that relegation in Madrid then we’ll treat it like any other tournament.

“Not just there to make up the numbers.”

Samoa, who were already 12 points behind eighth-place USA on the overall Series standings before this weekend’s event in Hong Kong China, lost all three of their pool matches at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Fellow bottom-four side Spain won a thriller by three points, and it was clear how much that defeat hurt the Samoans as they walked off the field and down the tunnel. With Ireland and South Africa still to play, they had their backs up against the ropes.

They led at the break against Terry Kennedy’s Ireland before losing 12-7. It was all one traffic in their final pool fixture though as the Blitzboks ran riot ahead of their own return to the quarter-finals for the first time in a while.

Shilton Van Wyk, Quewin Nortje, Impi Visser and Shaun Williams all scored for South Africa as they overcame two yellow cards to win 26-7 over Samoa.

“First and foremost I give all the glory and thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for guiding and protecting us in our preparation as well as our first three games here in Hong Kong,” Telefoni Lima said.

“Obviously disappointing. We knew the stakes coming into Hong Kong and in our prep, we put in a lot of effort. Lots of hard days of training in the sun back home.

“We prepared well, we just couldn’t execute when it came time to execute.

“Yesterday we lost two games where we were leading at half-time. So again, it’s the same things all season – just that last pass, that last tackle, that last 30 seconds, we’ve just got to execute.

“Just credit to South Africa for what they did just then. They’re a quality side and it’s disappointing to end it like that.”


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