A great tribute to Fats

November 9th, 2013 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

David Kirk has written a superb tribute to Fats in the NZ Herald. Three extracts:

There’s Fats in the Ponsonby jersey he was so proud to wear, taking a pass from the halfback off a short lineout in a club match. Within three metres he is at full speed, bull neck tucked into his hunched shoulders, cannonball head forward, legs pumping. Fats on the charge was a fearsome sight. The various components of the running man – arms, legs, a head on top – morphed into a spinning ball of muscle. I, for one, was happy to defer to a larger type when it came to getting in the way. On this day on Eden Park, as University gave as good as it got in a top of the table battle, Mata’afa Keenan had no hesitation. In true Pacific Island style, he didn’t wait. He ran at Fats. Mass times velocity times two equals sickening smash. Both players bounced back and ended up splayed on the ground. Mata’afa was up and all good. Fats, too, was up quickly, but he put his hand on the shoulder he had led with and then he rolled his shoulder a couple of times. That was the only time I ever saw Fats register physical discomfort. Boy it felt good!


One misty autumn day in Oxford in 1988 I got a call from . Fats was the captain of the Samoan touring team in Britain. Samoa was playing a match in Cardiff that week and Fats wanted to know if I could come down to see the team and take a training session. I took the train down, arriving at about midday and we had the training session in the afternoon. I stayed in the evening for dinner with the team and by then it was too late to get a train back. The Samoan rugby union had no money to pay for an extra room, so Fats said I would stay in his room. I expected twin beds, but there was only one bed and it was a single. Fats gestured to the bed and said, “That’s yours”. He slept on the floor. No blankets, no pillow, no complaints. What did sleeping on the floor matter to him if he had prepared his team better for the match ahead?


I can think of no greater compliment to give Peter – and I know he would see it that way – but to say that I wish I had had the opportunity to introduce my own children to him and for them to spend time in his company. To spend time with Peter Fatialofa was to be given a big dose of the best antidote to the tide of self-promotion and brittle celebrity worship that continues to rise like dry rot.

A sad loss.

12 Responses to “A great tribute to Fats”

  1. Daigotsu (485 comments) says:

    Who is this guy?

    Seriously I’ve never heard of him.

    I thought Fats Domino had died!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Keeping Stock (12,357 comments) says:

    A wonderful piece from David Kirk. I met Peter Fats just the once; at an after-match in Wanganui in 1993. The local Samoan community was out in force, and he was in his element. Having a beer with a chubby Palagi was probably low on his list of things to do that evening, but he could not have been more gracious and friendly.

    Peter Fats worked hard, then played hard. Even at the time of his death he was still giving back to the sport he loved, coaching the Samoan women’s team. His death will leave a huge void in the rugby community.

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. nostrils (53 comments) says:

    So you’ve never heard of him (neither had I), but why show your ignorance, and make a snide comment?

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Longknives (6,394 comments) says:

    Peter Fatialofa was a top bloke and one hell of a rugby player.
    He was amongst the last of the ‘amateur’ generation of players- guys who held down a job, lived ordinary lives and played top level footy.
    As Kirk alludes to he was really a complete contrast to the ‘Prima Donna’ behaviour of top rugby players today..
    A very well written and heartfelt piece from Kirk.
    RIP big man..

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Nostalgia-NZ (6,428 comments) says:

    His body was moved homed from the airport in one of his piano moving trucks with the sense that was the down to earth spirit of the man. As Kirk’s piece shows, and by other comments throughout the week, ‘fats’ was a dose of reality, of making do, holding no pretensions and disarming others with charm, humour, encouragement and massive compassion.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Daigotsu (485 comments) says:

    @nostrils: What can I say I’m a modest guy, not afraid to admit when there’s something I don’t know

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. nostrils (53 comments) says:

    Don’t be modest; I’ll bet that there’s a lot you don’t know 😉

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    A great tribute by David Kirk to the big fella.

    @Daigotsu – I’m very surprised that you hadn’t heard of Fats. Everyone who follows rugby will have heard of him – he was a legend, almost as big in the rugby world as Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan are/were in basketball.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Daigotsu (485 comments) says:

    Well there you go, I guess it’s coz I’m not a rugby fan

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. OTGO (728 comments) says:

    I once played a competitive game of squash against Fats. Yes he beat me. A little palangi against a big poly who just owned the centre court. And he bought me a quart bottle of Lion Red after the match.
    RIP big man.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. tvb (5,509 comments) says:

    Sadly his nickname gives a clue to his health issues. What a shame he could not get on top of that.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. iMP (2,665 comments) says:

    Will anyone have the courage after Fatialofa’s funeral to comment on the sad irony and socially unspoken truism of “Fats” when it comes to premature mortality amongst morbidly obese Pacific Islanders?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote