American Samoa Rugby Union launch inaugural High School Rugby Sevens Tournament
It was a strange feeling last weekend at Veterans Memorial Stadium to hear American Samoa high school football players talk about fly-half, prop and hooker instead of the normal quarterback, running back and middle linebacker. And the word ‘scrum’ rather than ‘huddle’? Surely there must have been a penalty in there somewhere. But, no. The football players were only making the transition from gridiron to rugby.
Governor Togiola Tulafono, as chairman of the American Samoa Rugby Union (ASRU), launched the first ever high school Seven-a-Side Rugby tournament over the weekend at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna and it included both boys and girls divisions.
The High School Sevens Tournament brought together eight teams to form three divisions – A, B and a Girls division. Fa’asao Marist, Faga’itua, Leone, and Tafuna all fielded a team in each division, with Samoana entering a team in the A & B divisions and no girls team, while Nu’uuli Poly Tech competed only in the A division. Kanana Fou played in the B and Girls divisions.
The A Division competition bracket were made up of Pool A (Leone, Faga’itua and Nu’uuli Poly Tech) and Pool B (Samoana, Tafuna and Fa’asao Marist).
The B Division was comprised of Pool C (Leone, Faga’itua and Kanana Fou) and Pool D (Samoana, Tafuna and Fa’asao Marist)
The Girls Division had Pool E (Tafuna, Fa’asao Marist and Kanana Fou) and Pool F (Leone and Faga’itua) in their completion.
Governor Togiola, who continues to beam in the recent announcement of American Samoa becoming a full-fledged International Rugby Board (IRB) member, said the inaugural High School Sevens Tournament is a great beginning for ASRU and it brings a new enthusiasm for the sport of rugby and its development in the Territory.
“This is a wonderful start for us and what we saw over the weekend from our high school players and their efforts will make our development work less difficult in the future,” said Governor Togiola. “The performance of our young and brand new rugby players, who are making the transition from American football to rugby, gives me hope because I saw that the desire is there and it is strong. I did not see casual playing. I saw heads on and heads up playing by both boys and girls teams, and they played well with a lot of heart and desire to play, and we have that for sure.”
Governor Togiola expressed his delight in the five teams that competed in the Girls Division and the variety of natural talent that displayed their newfound rugby skills last Friday and Saturday.
“I am also very proud of our girls competition and if we are to promote, support and advance the game of rugby in American Samoa, we must also develop girls rugby because it is an important part of the IRB charter and the International Olympics Committee require the development, participation and a girls competition in Olympic Sevens rugby,” said Governor Togiola.
After the Friday matches, the Girls Division competition had Tafuna, Kanana Fou, Leone and Faga’itua advance to the semifinals, while fifth place Fa’asao Marist was awarded the Bowl because only four teams in the division advance to the playoff round.
The B Division teams that moved to the semifinals were Kanana Fou, Leone and Faga’itua from Pool C and Samoana, Tafuna and Fa’asao Marist from Pool D.
In the A Division ranking to advance to the semifinal round from Pool A: Leone, Faga’itua and Nu’uuli Poly Tech, and Pool B: Tafuna, Samoana and Faga’itua.
On Saturday in the Cup Finals - Tafuna beat Leone 3-0 in the A Division Cup Final, while Kanana Fou defeated Leone in the B Division. Tafuna outscored Kanana Fou 10-5 to take the Girls Division Cup Final. (See below for scores)
Most Valuable Players of the High School Sevens Tournament: Girls Division – Taniata Leota (Tafuna); B Division – Rami Vai (Kanana Fou); and A Division – Vena Umu (Tafuna).
Governor Togiola said he was very impressed with the first outing for high school players in rugby sevens and he looks forward to more competition for the development of the sport in the high school level.
“We have excellent rugby capability, we have the size and we have the raw talent that requires rugby indoctrination and culturization and it gives us hope,” said Governor Togiola. “We have good ideas on how to help our high school players in making the transition to from gridiron to rugby and we know it’s a difficult transition. The reaction is slow because of lots of adjustments to new rules, so we need to be ready, willing and able to absorb and embrace rugby culture as we teach the game and especially in promoting the ethics of the game.”
Governor Togiola said, after assessing the performances of the players in their rugby sevens tournament, it is a must that ASRU teach the right way to play rugby as part of transition.
“We know that our players must learn the way to play the game the right way and we have a lot of potential, and with experience and exposure they can go very far,” said Governor Togiola. “We must make that commitment, and to excel in the game we must also prioritize fitness while we continue to learn the game and expand our mission of supporting our youth, and this time, it’s through rugby.”
Governor Togiola expressed his gratitude to all the high schools who participated in the first ever Rugby Seven Tournament.
“I wish to thank all the school administration, staff, players and coaches as well as our dedicated referees for making our inaugural tournament a great success and for being a part of this development in introducing the sport of rugby to our high school players,” said Governor Togiola. “It has been said that rugby has the contact of American football, the flow of soccer and the transition of basketball, so this fits our young people just right. I congratulate our players for their participation and I ask you all to have fun, play by the rules, play fair and play safe.”
Friday (May 18, 2012) Matches
In a Pool E match, Tafuna and Kanana Fou played to a 5-5 tie; Kanana Fou won over Fa’asao Marist 17-0; Tafuna defeated Fa‘asao Marist 31-0. In the lone Pool F game, Leone outscored Faga’itua 14-5.
Girls Ranking: Tafuna, Kanana Fou, Leone, Faga’itua and Fa’asao Marist, who did not play in the second day of competition because only four teams advance to the semifinals. Fa’asao Marist was awarded the Girls Division competition Bowl.
Pool A competition began with Leone over Nu’uuli Poly Tech 14-0; Faga’itua beat Nu’uuli Poly Tech 14-5; and Leone won over Faga’itua 12-7.
In Pool B matches: Samoana defeated Fa’asao Marist 12-5; Tafuna shutout Marist 26-0; and Samoana and Tafuna played to a scoreless tie.
A Division Ranking / Pool A: Leone, Faga’itua and Nu’uuli Poly Tech; Pool B: Tafuna, Samoana and Faga’itua
In Pool C action, Kanana Fou hung on to beat Leone 10-7, and then turned back Faga’itua 14-7; while Leone blanked Faga’itua 10-0.
Pool D: Samoana over Fa’asao Marist 14-0; Tafuna defeated Fa’asao Marist 17-7; and Samoana beat Tafuna 10-7.
B Division Ranking / Pool C: Kanana Fou, Leone and Faga’itua; Pool D: Samoana, Tafuna and Fa’asao Marist
Saturday (May 19, 2012)
Tafuna 12 Faga’itua 0
Kanana Fou 7 Leone 0
Kanana Fou 14 Tafuna 0
Leone 14 Samoana 5
Leone 7 Samoana 5
Tafuna 7 Faga’itua 5
Faga’itua 12 Fa’asao Marist 0
Nu’uuli Poly Tech 14 Fa’asao Marist 7
Leone 10 Faga’itua 5
Tafuna 12 Samoana 10
Faga’itua 15 Samoana 12
Tafuna 10 Kanana Fou 5
Kanana Fou 14 Leone 5
Tafuna 3 Leone 0