8 Jul 2015

A rugby test frenzy in Apia

2:25 pm on 8 July 2015

Calls of 'Go Samoa!' and 'Go All Blacks!" filled the air in the Samoan capital today during the countdown to this afternoon's historic test.

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The streets of central Apia were bumper to bumper with decorated vehicles, most showing support for Manu Samoa but a good number also backing the All Blacks.

The All Blacks have been treated like heroes since arriving in Samoa on Monday night ahead of the first Test between the two nations on Samoan soil.

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It's a Test many believe is happening because of broadcaster John Campbell, who was a driving force behind the campaign to bring the All Blacks to Samoa and is in Apia as a commentator for today's match.

John Campbell told Morning Report the passion for the game was evident everywhere.

"Rugby is their national sport, daylight is second here, they just live and breathe it, they love it, they are brilliant at it," he said.

"When you drive through the villages, everywhere you look people are playing rugby, just constantly animated by their love for the game."

Mr Campbell said Samoans were incensed and insulted by the All Blacks not visiting before, especially when they went to Chicago to play.

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Photo: Illustration: Toby Morris

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele said it had been a long time coming.

"For many many years we sought for the All Blacks to come to Apia Park. We asked and the Maori All Blacks came. Then the Junior All Blacks were sent," he said.

"The All Blacks, however, remained an elusive Scarlet Pimpernel and we wondered if we were asking the wrong questions.

"If only we had known that all we needed to do was to call John Campbell."

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Locals believe the soaring temperatures will give the Manu Samoa team the home town advantage; the cloudy start to the day might have given the All Blacks hope it would be cooler than expected but the sun has broken through and the mercury is set to top 30 degrees Celsius.

Samoan actor writer and director Oscar Kightley told Morning Report he was like most Samoans, supporting both teams and just enjoying the celebration.

He said the result did not really matter and he was sure the All Blacks would visit Samoa again now they had made their premier appearance.

Apia's catholic cathedral gets into the spirit of the game.

Apia's Catholic Cathedral gets into the spirit of the game. Photo: RNZ / Sharon Lundy

All 8,104 seats to the game at Apia Park are sold, and several big screens were set up for fans to see Manu Samoa take on the World Champions.

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