IRB Hall of Fame
IRB Hall of Fame – Induction No.45 – Brian Pala Lima (1972-) Samoa, Barbarians and Pacific Islanders
– Born: 25 January 1972 in Apia, Samoa
– Family: The 10th child of Tuliaupupu Pala Lima (Father) and Talaetau Lima (Mother). He has four older brothers (Malaga, Maafala, Faaeteete and Naiana) and eight sisters, of whom five (Nerisa, Moana, Heather, Anita and Savali) are older and three are younger (Tai, Suetusi and Ala). He is married to Sina Maria Retzlaff-Lima and they have three children, Brian Jr Telefoni, Daniel Maafala and Brisin Manumalo Lima.
– Education: Attended Apia Primary (1977-1984), Leifiifi Intermediate (1985-1986), Church College of Samoa (1987), St Joseph’s College (1988-1990), Catholic Senior School (1991) and St Patricks College in Wellington, New Zealand ( 1991).
– Nickname: “The Chiropractor”
– Other sports: Golf and touch rugby
– A former professional rugby player, he runs now a Car Rental business in Apia.
Honours and Awards
– Top try scorer in New Zealand NPC (1986)
– Top try scorer in Super 12 (1997)
– Player of the Year for Ponsonby Auckland, New Zealand (1993)
– Player of the Tournament, Canberra Sevens (1994)
– Player of the Year for Marist, Apia (1994)
– Special Award, Apia West Union (2007)
– Special Award, Marist, Apia (2008)
– Special Award from the Samoa Rugby Union (2009)
– Inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in October 2011 as one of 19 Rugby World Cup founders, pioneers and legends.
– Started playing at Apia Primary School on the wing and went on playing for the Leifiifi and St Joseph’s Marist colleges.
– He joined Letogo RFC at the age of 13 in 1985 and in 1988 he started playing for Apia Marist, a club he remained associated with for the rest of his career.
– Made his Test debut against Tonga on the right wing on 28 May 1991 at the age of 19, and retired 16 years later after Rugby World Cup 2007.
– When he played in his first Rugby World Cup in 1991, he was the youngest player to play in a RWC.
– At his first RWC in 1991, he was a regular in the Western Samoa team that reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to Scotland.
– Samoa reached the last eight again at RWC 1995, losing to eventual champions South Africa.
– Once the Game was declared open in August 1995, he signed with the newly-formed New Zealand franchise the Otago Highlanders and scored a try in their opening Super 12 match against Queensland.
– In 1996, he returned to Auckland and played for the NPC team and finished the season as top try scorer. He carried on playing for Auckland in the NPC for a further seven seasons.
– In 1997, he joined the Auckland Blues and celebrated his debut with two tries in a 40-40 draw with Northern Transvaal. He was a regular in the team that won the Super 12 title that year after defeating ACT Brumbies 23-7.
– He played for the Blues for one more season and scored seven tries in 12 matches, bringing his Blues total to 23 Super 12 matches and 13 tries.
– In 1999, he returned to Dunedin as a member of an ambitious Highlanders team and scored seven tries during a season beset by injury. The Highlanders reached the final, but lost 24-19 to the Canterbury Crusaders, with Lima one of the two try-scorers.
– The following season he left New Zealand for France where he signed for Stade Français. In his first season, Stade Français won the French Championship after defeating US Colomiers in the final.
– During his two seasons with Stade Français he made six appearances in the Heineken Cup, scoring two tries.
– At the end of the 2000/01 season he signed with the Welsh regional side, the Ospreys. In his only season with the club he made five appearances in the 2001/02 Heineken Cup.
– The following season he joined the Seacom club in Japan, making a telling contribution to their 2003/04 campaign.
– He signed a contract with Irish province Munster in 2004, but was unable to play due to an early injury.
– In 2005, he joined Bristol Rugby in England and contributed to their successful return to the Premiership. During his time with Bristol, the club finished 11th in 2005 and third in 2006. He also played three matches in the European Challenge Cup, scoring one try.
– He ended his club career in 2007.
– Played Sevens for Samoa in a number of tournaments around the world, including the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens where he made his debut in 1990.
– Played in three RWC Sevens tournaments in 1993, 1997 and 2005.
– Assistant coach for Manu Samoa Under 19 in 2008
– Assistant coach for Apia West in 2009
– Head coach for Apia West in 2010
– Assistant coach for the Apia Union in 2011
– Assistant coach for the Marist Sevens team in 2004, 2005 and 2008
– Coach for the Marist Tens team in 2008
– Assistant coach for the Marist Club in 2009
– Head coach for the Marist 7s & Club in 2010
– Head coach for Letogo RFC in 2011
– A member of the Western Samoa team who defeated RWC 1987 third place finishers Wales to reach the quarter finals of RWC 1991.
– After four years of amateur rugby, Lima turned professional following the IRB decision to declare the Game open in August 1995.
– During his professional career in New Zealand between 1996 and 1999, he played 125 first-class games (both Super 12 and NPC), scoring a total of 77 tries.
– During his professional career in Europe between 1999 and 2007 (except for one season in Japan) he played in 14 European matches – 11 in the Heineken Cup and three in the Challenge Cup – and scored three tries.
– He represented Western Samoa/Samoa in 70 matches, of which 65 Tests and five non-capped international matches.
– He was in the starting line-up for 62 of his 65 Test matches for Samoa, 49 times on the right wing and 13 at centre. The country he made the most appearances against was Fiji (15).
– He also played two Tests for the Pacific Islanders in 2004, starting against New Zealand at centre and coming off the bench against South Africa.
– He is Samoa’s record try-scorer with 31 tries.
– At the time of his induction into the IRB Hall of Fame he was the only player in the world to have played in five Rugby World Cups, from 1991 to 2007.
– At 19 years and 255 days he was the youngest player to appear in a RWC tournament.
– He played in a Samoan record of 18 RWC matches.
– He scored 10 tries across four Rugby World Cups – 1991 (2), 1995 (2), 1999 (3) and 2003 (3).
– Played for the Southern Hemisphere against the Northern Hemisphere in the IRB Tsunami Relief match at Twickenham in 2005.
– Selected by the Barbarians for the match against Scotland in 2005.
– He captained Samoa twice, against Fiji and the Junior All Blacks, both in 2007.
What he said
“Work hard to achieve something you want. If you want to play for Manu Samoa, figure out how, but balance your life. Put school first before rugby to have something to fall back on after your career.”
“I give thanks to God for all the strength and understanding and to my family and Samoa for supporting me.”
What they said
Huw Baines (writer ESPN Scrum.com): “Graduating to the world stage was a huge change for Lima, who grew up practicing hits on his friends, while they played rugby with sticks thanks to the unavailability of balls.”
Michael Jones (former All Black flanker and Samoa coach): “To play in four World Cups is big enough, but to take part in five is something special. This world record is set by a very unique individual, which will never be broken. He is a national treasure in Samoa.”
Michael Jones (former All Black flanker and Samoa coach): “Mentally he is the toughest man I met in rugby. There will never be one like him again.”
Innes Logan (writer, Spasificmag.com): “A man of action and few words, he would be a continuous inspiration for the Manu Samoa teams he represented for almost two decades.”
Taufusi Salesa (former Manu Samoa captain and coach): “He was very disciplined about his training. There were many good players, probably better than Brian, but Brian’s commitment and willingness to improve was what made him such a wonderful player.”
Keith Quinn (NZ Television commentator and author): “Brian Lima has my respect. I never saw any rugby player give so much, so often, for so long.”