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Punimata — home boy — making big strides in the world of rugby

jeff@samoanews.com
Pictured is the USA National Rugby 7’s Team, the Eagles, recently in London during their last two legs of the IRB Series. Third from left is 2004 graduate of Samoana High School, Nu’u Pumimata, who is playing for the USA National Team and making great strides in the world or rugby. [courtesy photo]

Samoana High School 2004 graduate, Nu’u Punimata, is making big strides in the world of rugby, as he is not only playing for the USA National 7’s Team, he is also coaching rugby to young boys and girls at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) near Seattle, Washington.

Waisale Serevi, who is a former three time Melrose cup champion and two time World Cup champion, formed Serevi and Rugby Nation and with the help of Punimata, they are bringing flag rugby to JBLM every Friday, which began April 13 and goes through May 28.

“My coaching job with Serevi, the company, has been amazing thus far. Serevi has a very fun, structured and an engaging system in place to help the individual athlete and to help grow the game tremendously in America,” said Punimata in interview with Samoa News via email.

“I feel very fortunate and blessed to be part of Serevi. Most of what I get to do with the company is coach at various kids camps ranging from ages 5-24. Serevi also has an Academy they run annually where prospective athletes who on the cusp of making the national team, or have it as their aim, can come and see what an actual national team camp is run like,” he said.

Punimata went on to say that the academy encompasses everything from nutrition, training, weightlifting, skills training and applying them in game like settings.

“For me, the best part is giving back to the youth. I feel blessed to give them my knowledge and what I have learned through my time here on the USA National Team. Especially when the kids are at such an impressionable age, where they are like sponges, soaking up a lot of information like sponges, which can inspire and push them to chase after their goals and dreams.”

In speaking about the IRB, Punimata said, “We as a team, are continuing to make strides in our play. We let some things slop past us last week in Scotland, but Coach Magelby along with Captain Shalom Suniula, have done a great job of getting us back on track for this week in London. The boys are very excited to play England, Samoa and France in our pool on day 1.”

Punimata noted that they “are definitely looking to finishing the season on a positive note, as we believe we can.”

He concluded, “I would like to say hello to my grandparents Nuuese and Matamuli Punimata back in American Samoa and say to all of my family, thank you for the support, encouragement and prayers. To the youth back home, continue to strive for your dreams. To all of the people of American Samoa, thank you. I carry you in my heart always and wherever I go. Alofa Atu American Samoa.”

Punimata is the son of Chief Warrant Officer-CWO 04 US Special Forces, Nicholas Luga Punimata of Ta’u Manu’a and Sharon T. Punimata.

Some of Punimata’s accomplishments in the world of rugby, include playing for the USA 7’s squad and for Old Pudget Sound Beach and the 7’s Super Rugby League, where he won the 7’s crown in 2010. He has played with Fort Lewis’s 7’s and in the Hong Kong 7’s as well Las Vegas, Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand and Guatemala. He is also a former University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) football player and was a huge part in of the Old Puget Sound’s rugby championship run last year, when not long after that accomplishment, he broke into the USA 7’s team.



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