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Dear Editor,


I am writing in response to the editorial by your special contributor, Barry Markowitz, published in your April 8, 2014 entitled: “TMO American Samoa Marist 7s is a signature sports tourism event…”


I don’t believe Mr. Markowitz is “speaking out of turn” in his editorial. ASRU believes in open discussion of the issues involving ASRU, but he is, as he stated, “naïve” and speaking out of “ignorance” because he really does NOT “know the back story.”


While it is correct that Marist St. Joseph started the “TMO Marist 7s Rugby Tournament”, they did not “create” the American Samoa Flag Day 7s tournament. The ASRU created the ASFD 7s Rugby Tournament.


ASRU started the Flag Day Sevens Rugby tournament even before I became involved with the ASRU. I saw the ASRU hosted tournaments personally. In my opinion, other than the great Marist fanfare with their tournaments, the running of the rugby games were just as great and fun to watch as the last two Marist tournaments. I honestly believe it was the success of the ASRU Flag Day 7s tournaments that attracted the Marist’s attention. So, in 2011, Marist requested the ASRU to allow them to host the tournament on behalf of the ASRU. The most attractive part of their proposal was the promise that they will realize a substantial profit that will be shared with ASRU to help ASRU develop the Union and the game of rugby in American Samoa. This promise has been made to ASRU every year, including 2014. Suffice it to say, the board simply decided that it is best to have Marist host their tournament on another day, without any more promises, but the Flag Day tournament will return to ASRU to host.


Moreover, it is the Marist tournament management who informed me personally that after consultation with their Marist brothers in New Zealand and Samoa, it is thought that it’s probably better to move the TMO Marist to a day in February or early March in order to attract teams from New Zealand and that part of the world during their off-season. I was elated to hear that because I believe if it happens it will be great for rugby development in American Samoa. That is the only real reason the ASRU board changed its mind and allowed Marist to host the tournament in 2014. Otherwise, the ASRU was proceeding with its plans to host the Flag Day Sevens tournament this year.


Furthermore, there was never any discussion or indication to ASRU from Marist that they would quit their tournament. Nor did ASRU seek to “fold” the Marist tournament. ASRU wants Marist to go forward with their tournament and be successful at it, just as ASRU expects to be successful with the Flag Day tournament starting again with next years’.


I can think of nothing better to happen for the development of our Sevens Rugby in American Samoa in the near future, than having two equally as great and well organized Sevens Rugby events in our territory. ASRU stands ready to support Marist’s efforts to make their tournament even more successful. It’s for rugby and for country. But we will do it without any more promises. I personally wish Marist the very best in this year’s tournament and in the future.


Lastly, Mr. Markowitz, to say in your letter that it’s better and less expensive for my relatives from Samoa to “It costs a whole lot less to travel from Apia to Tutuila and ‘aiafu’ off of their relatives. . .” is very disrespectful of our families and friends from Samoa. Maybe you were just trying to be funny (even at our expense). Or maybe you are just “naïve” or “ignorant”. I think not. I think you understand very well that this term is extremely demeaning, and coming from you, its racist. Be a good man and apologize to my people.


Happy Flag Day!


Togiola Tulafono

Chairman & CEO

Amerika Samoa Rugby Union