Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

11th November 2013 06:45

Share:

SKY_MOBILE Peter Fatialofa - Samoa - Feb 2001

Gone but not forgotten: Peter Fatialofa

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with takeaways from the Test weekend and a fond farewell...

What we learned over a patchy weekend of Test action:

1) The gap between north and south continues to exist. Wales and France both blew huge chances to take treasured scalps this weekend. But 'blow' is perhaps a little cruel... we should say: New Zealand and South Africa both reminded us that when it comes to the tightest situations the southern teams still have the edge. The difference in Paris? The incredible line and pass from Charles Piutau. In Cardiff? Simple finishing. Warren Gatland was spot on when he said: "It's not the fitness or physicality, it's that tempo and speed of thought and it sometimes takes a bit of time to get used to it." Maybe a bit of time... but how many years has it been now? SH teams just know how to win games and score at the crucial moment. Until Europe manages to create a regular league of Heineken Cup intensity, it's going to take forever.

2) Australia really aren't that bad. Slow start aside they were clearly in another class to Italy, matching up to the Italian pack and showing a cutting edge outside that has been missing from their game for yonks. Italy made their mistakes, but the lop-sided nature of the result was no coincidence. This was a vastly improved Australia performance of speed, precision and excitement, one which will doubtless have the fans hoping that a corner has been turned.

3) England are winning when not playing well. It's supposed to be one of the hallmarks of a good team to be able to do that, so the benefit of the doubt must surely be with this England team, who are, if nothing else, united, playing for each other, and all sorts of hard to break down. Next weekend will be the real benchmark as to how much they need to improve to be world class, but while this belligerent nobody will want to play them.

4) France are not that bad either. Forget the last-placed finish in the Six Nations, France were good value for their near-miss on Saturday night. Tactically spot on, they have a few structural flaws to iron out and they need to re-learn the art of broken play rugby, so long the French staple. But there is under Philippe Saint Andre, as there was under Bernard Laporte for a time, a collective buy-in to a strict gameplan which was one miracle pass short of gaining a draw against the best in the world. Nobody's going to want to play France soon either.

5) Wales' squad depth is of the shallowness normally associated with Big Brother contestants. Lose three or four key players and the Welsh look flat and uninspiring. Good as a unit they are, but take away a few big names and there's few coming up behind to bolster the troops. How much do you think the Welsh would give for a Shane Williams type of player right now too?

6) New Zealand may be the best in the world, but they do get away with an awful lot of things too. They are so good to watch that you give them the benefit of the doubt, but there were definitely times on Saturday when the white shirts just took aeons to get away from the tackle situation or to get onto their side of the ball, or where their scrum was under pressure and did not get penalised as it should have. It is going to be very interesting to see how they react to England's pressure game on Saturday, and how the referee then reacts to their reaction. Against France they got away with it, will they be that lucky again?


Away from the weekend's action, rugby, and particularly Samoan and New Zealand rugby this week bade a fond farewell to a servant of good and long standing.

Long-time Auckland prop and Samoan stalwart Peter Fatialofa passed away suddenly this week at the age of 54 from a heart attack. He leaves a large family.

Fatialofa was one of the Samoan players who helped put the island nation team on the map after their stunning 1991 World Cup win over Wales. He played for Samoa until 1996, the same year he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to rugby, and had been coaching Samoa's women's rugby team.

The jokes about piano shifters up front obviously struck a chord as well, for he was the owner of a successful business named Peter Fats, Piano and Furniture Removal, which still runs today, while he was a fine tourism ambassador for Samoa through the Fats Tours company.

All Black great Bryan Williams summed up the comments of many whe he said a "huge wave of emotion" came over him following the news of Fatialofa's death, to the New Zealand Herald.

"There are so many memories that came flooding back. Peter Fats is one of the icons of our sport.

"It's not just about Samoan rugby or Ponsonby or Auckland rugby. He transcended all boundaries. He was universally popular throughout the rugby world."

A sad loss for New Zealand and Samoa and rugby in general. Rest in peace, Fats.

Loose Pass compiled by Richard Anderson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London WelshSale vs London Welsh Preview
London Irish vs SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Preview
Harlequins vs WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Preview
Bath vs LeicesterBath vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Preview
Manawatu vs Southland19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
Connacht 10 - 9 LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Brive 13 - 53 ToulonBrive vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 29 - 15 Pumas
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter310
2Saracens29
3Bath29
4Leicester Tigers29
5Northampton26