Rugby World Cup 2023 – Theo McFarland (Samoa) approaches the heights

Saracens second row Theo McFarland made his mark in Bordeaux in the Samoa jersey. We will undoubtedly talk again about this slender former basketball player.

We had heard a little about him before the match, he confirmed his emerging reputation in a Samoa-Chile match that was a bit of a double-sided match.

Théo McFarland is not that young, he is 27 years old. But he started playing rugby seriously quite late. He first excelled on the basketball floor, which allowed him to be international in this discipline and to participate in the Pacific Games with Samoa. He was even made captain.

On Saturday, he stood out in Bordeaux, to the point of being crowned “man of the match”, which remains rare for a second row. He rivaled the dynamism of the Chileans in the first period. After the break, he was one of the spearheads of his selection’s surge which ended up pocketing the offensive bonus point. We also noticed that he remained on the pitch until the end with quite astonishing consistency.

In any case, we quickly understood that Seilala Mapusua, his trainer, had made him an essential pawn in his system. He had obviously been asked, during offensive movements, to stay in the corridors to make his gestures speak. We saw it in the test of the peroxide scrum half Jonathan Taumateine. Theo McFarland found himself at the end of the line and put on the ground, he delivered a gem of a piston pass for his teammate.

Shy, he remained silent after the match

Shy like many Polynesians, he did not wish to speak after the meeting. Just before getting on the bus, he said a few words to a Samoan journalist in… Samoan. He is a true native of the archipelago and grew up on an island without television or internet connection.

But we risk talking again about this slender front with extraordinary slaughter, in this World Cup. And the Argentinians and the English are likely to have it on the ropes. When we know the physical power of this Samoan team, we understand what assets a forward with his profile can bring, more focused on bypassing and laterality when the game demands it.

And yet, victim of a serious knee injury (anterior cruciate ligament) last December, he was not sure of taking part in this French World Cup. Still, he managed to return last August for the Pacific Nations Cup, with the Samoan victory against neighbors Tonga.

Théo McFarland made his international debut during this World Cup qualifier. He is not yet very well known to French rugby fans, but in 2021, he was spotted by Saracens who brought him from the antipodes when he had been on the verge of signing for an American franchise (reportedly -he would make the World Cup if it had come to fruition?). In two seasons, Théo McFarland has found his place in this prestigious London team, to the point of making thirty-four appearances alongside Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Owen Farrell: good company.

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