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Togiola confident Territory will receive full membership on International Rugby Board

fili@samoanews.com

American Samoa Rugby Union chairman, Gov. Togiola Tulafono is confident that the territory’s application for full membership on the International Rugby Board (IRB) will be approved while the local rugby union is now preparing to send a team to an Oceania tournament in August.

Speaking on his radio program, Togiola said one of his recent off-island trips was to attend the annual general membership meeting of the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) held in the Cook Islands and he had a chance to talk with FORU president Lefau Harry Schuster while he was there. He again pushed for American Samoa to get full membership at IRB — the governing world body of rugby.

Togiola says he has received assurances from Lefau that he will strongly push for American Samoa’s full membership, which has been supported by FORU. Togiola says Lefau is attending next week’s meeting of the IRB in Europe and hopefully the territory’s membership approval will be granted soon.

He also revealed that the only problem, which has since been resolved, was that when the territory’s application was submitted it was learned that past membership dues with the IRB were pending. Togiola said that this was handled right away to ensure this issue does not impede American Samoa receiving full membership.

It’s not clear how much was owed by American Samoa, currently an associated IRB member.

The governor says his attendance at the FORU was paid for by the Oceania federation and one of the issues of discussion at the annual meeting focused on a code of ethics and enforcement of rules, including penalties on assault during games.

He said these are important issues for FORU especially with the IRB heading into the 2016 Olympics in which rules of the game and code of ethics are strictly enforced and must be abided. (Rugby Sevens has been admitted as one of the sporting events for the 2016 Summer Olympics, hosted by the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.)

The meeting culminated in the election of the FORU Executive to lead the Region for the next four years and the membership unanimously re- elected Lefau of Samoa to continue as FORU President, according to a news release over the weekend from the Samoa Rugby Union Incorporated (SRUI).

 In re- electing Lefau, the Region will be represented by Lefau in the IRB Council and benefit from his continuing representation on the IRB’s Rugby Committee and Advisory Committee on Player Movement and Transfers, the release states.

Also at the FORU meeting, Togiola was “nominated to be one of the two Executive members and was strongly supported at the meeting, but the governor withdrew his nomination as he desired to concentrate on developing rugby in American Samoa”, says SRUI, which also noted that the territory is seeking to be admitted as a full member of the IRB this year.

Also on his weekend radio program, Togiola, in response to a caller, said that the Oceania Sevens rugby championship is set for Aug. 24- 25 in Australia and American Samoa is preparing a team, with the selection process to get underway soon.

He said that the territory also plans to send a team for the Under 19-Oceania championship tournament set for November in Samoa.



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