Samoa fell short of of a Rugby League World Cup title, but you wouldn’t know it from the Saturday morning scene in the parking lot of a popular Mendenhall Valley trail.
Dozens of rugby fans gathered near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as the Brotherhood Bridge Trail, around 9 a.m., before joining a vehicle procession around Juneau to celebrate Samoa’s first-ever appearance in the World Cup finals. Flag waving, cheering and staccato horn blasts marked the occasion.
“We’re always fans no matter where we go,” said Jan Enele, who has lived in Juneau for 11 years. “It’s a proud moment for us.”
Enele was one of about 40 people who joined the celebration and among the first to arrive.
Frances Vase was another early arrival. Vase said she and others watched the game, which Australia won 30-10, via a stream online and noted the event was open to the broader Juneau Polynesian community, not just people of Samoan descent.
Like Enele —and the dozens of exuberant attendees —Vase said the outcome of the game did not diminish pride in what British newspaper the Guardian described as “an unforgettable tournament.”
“Win our lose, we’re still proud,” Vase said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.