By Levi Matautia-Morgan - firstname.lastname@example.org
For those who feel hurt, annoyed or even discouraged by the result of the Rugby League World Cup semi-final between England and Tonga, I’d like to welcome you to the world of sport.
The red tsunami took over at the Tonga vs. England semi-final clash in Auckland. Photo/ PRN.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege of covering the 2017 Rugby League World Cup on behalf of Pacific Radio News, which allowed me to see first-hand just how crazy, wild and beautiful the Tongan fans are. They remind me of the Irish, when I used to see and hear them chant, “There’s only one Conor McGregor".
On Saturday night, in the 80th minute, I was yelling for my Pacific brothers because I thought they had won, until I looked at the score board that said England had won by two points. I was shattered. Then the sponsor board came on to the field, which confirmed the result because that board only comes on at full-time for post-match interviews with the players.
I then thought to myself, "Here comes the 'What If' phase". What if the ref went upstairs for the replay? What if Andrew Fifita really got the try? What if Tonga made it through to the finals? Etc.
A lot of our Pacific people in the weekend also entered the ‘What If’ phase for the first time and are still stuck there because they've never experienced this side of sport before. The side of sport where you've spent money to see your team lose. The side of sport where you didn’t get your way. Again I say welcome to the world of sport.
Remember when Conor McGregor lost to Floyd Mayweather in the biggest boxing event ever? Fans in Ireland and around the world thought the fight stopped too early. They entered the ‘What If' phase.
Remember when Joseph Parker beat Andy Ruiz in a majority decision for the WBO Heavyweight title last year? Mexican fans thought Ruiz did enough to beat Parker. They too entered the ‘What If' phase. Now it’s Tonga’s turn.
Mate Ma'a Tonga. Photo/ PRN.
I have more than a few Tongan friends who had never watched a full game of rugby league before the world cup, yet they were some of the loudest supporters. This was because they were cheering for their country more than they were for the 13 players on the field. Some fans only knew Jason Taumalolo and no one else. I saw people, who never watch sport, post their opinion of the game online and I don’t blame them.
But (there’s always a but), some of us are now still out there waving the flags in a peaceful protest. I reckon it’s because the ‘What If’ question still hasn’t been answered and the only real answer any of us want to hear is, “Sorry we made a mistake, Tonga is now through to the finals”.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it isn’t happening. “The game was rigged”, “It’s corrupt” and “It was a fixed game” are all common sayings I have heard in my time as a sports fan and it’s what I’m hearing this time around.
I personally don’t believe the game was fixed. What I don’t understand is why the referee wouldn’t watch the replay before sending a team to the Rugby League World Cup finals.
To those who are still stung by the result, time will heal because as a sports fan you learn to live by these five words: It is what it is.
And to those who will continue to watch rugby league in the future, welcome to the world of sport.
*DISCLAIMER: The views in this opinion piece are based on the individual’s views, not Pacific Radio News.