Peter Fatialofa: Sportsman who led Samoa to victory over Wales and on to the quarter-finals of the 1991 World Cup

 

The rugby union player Peter Fatialofa was a prop forward who captained Samoa at the 1991 World Cup and helped craft an image of Samoan rugby which mixed physical prowess with gentleness and humility. The Samoans beat Wales on their home ground at Cardiff to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals, a victory which remains one of the most significant achieved by a team from the Pacific Islands.

Fatialofa was born in Auckland, but moved with his family back to Samoa when he was still at primary school. He returned to Auckland to begin his senior rugby career, making his debut for Grafton when he was 19. He moved to Ponsonby in 1981, winning the Gallaher Shield eight times with them between then and 1995.

"He was a tough bugger," said the former All Black Andy Haden, his old Ponsonby team-mate. "He didn't take a backwards step." He played 72 games for Auckland, and was a cornerstone of the team when they held the Ranfurly Shield between 1985 and 1993.

He made his international debut against Ireland in October 1988 and first captained the side the following year; at the 1991 World Cup they lost to Scotland in the quarter-finals 28–6. His international swansong was against Fiji in Suva in 1996, and his autobiography Fats: Peter Fatialofa and the Manu Samoa Story was published the same year.

In retirement he worked as a director of his family-owned piano and furniture moving business, and was coaching the Samoan women's rugby team when he died of a heart attack. In the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Chris Maume

Peter Momoe Fatialofa, rugby union player and coach: born Auckland, New Zealand 26 April 1959; married (eight children); died Apia, Samoa 6 November 2013.

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