More than 12,000 people got witness the passionate Siva Tau v Sipi Tau on Sunday as Pacific neighbours Samoa and Tonga locked horns in the World Cup.
Samoa edged past their Pasifika brothers Tonga 20-18 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington to set up a semi-final against England at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Although the game had everything you would want a rugby league match to have, it was the outpour of emotions on social media over the Siva Tau v Sipi Tau pre-match ritual that gave the public goosebumps.
The Siva Tau and Sipi Tau are the war dances of Samoa and Tonga respectively. It was fiery, passionate, emotional and beautiful all in one.
— Love Rugby League (@loverugbyleague) November 6, 2022
Siva Tau v Sipi Tau extra special for Junior Paulo
And the pre-game build up was extra special for Samoa captain Junior Paulo, whose partner is Tongan!
“Heading out to the coin toss there was talk about who was going to go first,” Paulo said.
“I spoke to Jase (Jason Taumalolo, Tonga captain) briefly and threw the question out there if we wanted to do it together. I think it’s a good sign of unity between the two nations and the support over rugby league in general.
“It’s a really proud moment for myself too. My partner is Tongan so the kids are half and half. It was always going to be a tough conversation about who to support but I think that’s the best part about celebrating both cultures.”
Paulo, one of several players to commit to representing his Samoan heritage rather than Australia or New Zealand, is proud of the Samoan and Tongan communities for the way they’ve embraced their rugby league teams.
“The emotions are through the roof,” Paulo added. “Just listening to that now (the fans) it’s pretty surreal for us.
“Both teams can be proud of what they’ve achieved over the course of the tournament. We’re seeing both cultures celebrating, quite proudly, all over the world. I think that’s part of our job of being role models within our communities.
“We talk about inspiring the next generation all the time and you can definitely be proud and say that it’s heading in the right direction for us.”
Samoa face England in the semi-finals of the World Cup at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, 2:30pm kick-off.