A “MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENT’ FOR AM. SAMOA’S NATIONAL SEVENS RUGBY TEAM
The American Samoa national Sevens team returned home last Sunday evening in high spirits, as the International Rugby Board (IRB) has given them the green light to compete at the Hong Kong Sevens and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year, after they edged past Papua New Guinea to claim the 5th place during the 2013 Oceania Sevens tournament hosted by Fiji last week.
Among those who joined families and friends to welcome the Talavalu team when they arrived at the Pago Pago International Airport was the Chairman of the American Samoa Rugby Union (ASRU) Togiola T. A Tulafono and one of its board members, Representative Puletuimalo D. Koko.
Families and friends could not contain their excitement, shouting out to the team when the team arrived and made their way to the arrival area. Tears of joy and pride were seen on many faces when the team finally walked out of the check-out area.
Togiola delivered brief remarks on behalf of the Union, family and friends who welcomed the team back home.
Not only did he thank the players and the coaching staff for the great job, but he also thanked the families and friends for their prayers and support.
“Thank you for a job well done, you fought hard to put American Samoa’s name on the top, and even though this is just the beginning of another long journey, I know we can do better if we work together and work hard,” Togiola said.
Head Coach Leota Setefano Fata told Samoa News at the airport that this was their main aim while enroute to Fiji for the Oceania sevens last week — to find a way to enter the Hong Kong sevens.
“In each match I encouraged our players to put everything they had for the team and for the people of American Samoa. It was not easy but I know the boys gave it their best in appreciation for the tapuaiga from their families and friends and the people of American Samoa,” said Leota.
"Now that we have achieved our goal of securing our place in Hong Kong, our next step is for us to start our preparation so that we can do good in the Hong Kong leg,” said Leota.
When asked about the team’s preparations before heading to the Oceania Sevens tournament, Leota stated the team faced some difficulties during their preparation. For example, sometimes only fourteen players would turn up for their practice and it was really hard for him to select the best to send over to Fiji from such a limited pool of players.
“Our team was selected from the fourteen players that turned up during the last day of practice, and they are the ones that put American Samoa’s name in the IRB record, and my hat goes off to our team’s captain and the whole team for the work well done,” said Leota.
The team’s captain, David Laban was in tears when asked about their performance in Fiji.
“Over the last four years, our national sevens team has been trying hard to find a way to enter the Hong Kong sevens, and we thank God we made it this year through the strength and knowledge that He gave to us,” said Laban.
Laban smiled when asked about how the team felt when they played against their brother team from Samoa during the pool games.
“Before the match started we already knew Samoa would win, but it was a challenge for us to play against them and feel their strength."
While Samoa claimed their fourth Oceania Sevens title last week in Suva after beating the host Fiji 31-17, American Samoa and Cook Islands made a huge step forward after this year’s sevens tournament when they qualified for the HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, round seven of the World Series this season.
The Talavalu from American Samoa was in pool B with Samoa, the 2012 Oceania sevens defending champions Australia and the Solomon Islands team.
American Samoa lost it two first matches to Australia 31-0 and to the hands of their brother team Samoa 45-0, but won its last pool game match against Solomon Islands 14-7.
Day 2 saw American Samoa lose it first match of the day to Cook Islands 26-14, but they___ turned around and won the last two matches against Tuvalu 31-5 and to PNG 29-19 to claim the 5th place slot and get a chance to join the other thirty one Sevens teams from all over the world to play in Hong Kong.
Laban scored four tries during the last match, while Joe Poyer scored one try and 2 conversions by Pentateuch Vaki.
American Samoa came 5th after the 2013 Oceania last week by beating Papua New Guinea 29-19, and it’s the rematch from the 2012 Oceania in Australia when PNG beat American Samoa 24-21.
Leota told Samoa News after the tournament that the win against PNG and the chance to compete at Hong Kong 7s next year will boost rugby in the territory.
“This is a milestone achievement for our team and since it’s the third time we have competed in the Oceania tournament, I guess the third time was lucky for us,”
In the last two years, American Samoa has placed 6th.
Head Coach for this year’s American Samoa national sevens team Talavalu, Leota Setefano Fata, also wanted to say Thank you to Bluesky Communications for the financial sponsorship that allowed them the chance to be able to compete in this tournament, and to the Chairman of the American Samoa Rugby Union (ASRU) Togiola T. A Tulafono and one of its Board members, Peseta Sa Mavaega for their unwavering support and belief in the team.
He also sent out a fa’afetai tele for the tapuai’ga to the coaching staff, to all who donated to the last car wash held before the team departed, and to family, friends and the people of American Samoa.
In the photo below, the American Samoa national sevens team Talavalu, returned home last Sunday evening in high spirits — the International Rugby Board (IRB) has given them the green light to compete at the Hong Kong Sevens and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year, after they edged past Papua New Guinea to claim the 5th place during the 2013 Oceania Sevens tournament hosted by Fiji last week.
Head Coach for this year’s American Samoa national sevens team Leota Setefano Fata wanted to say a special thank you to Bluesky Communications for their sponsorship that allowed them the chance to be able to compete in this year’s tournament; and, to the Chairman of the American Samoa Rugby Union (ASRU) Togiola T. A Tulafono and ASRU Board member, Peseta Sa Mavaega for their unwavering support and belief in the team and coaching staff.
A fa’afetai also goes out to all who donated to the car wash held before the team departed and to family, friends, and the people of American Samoa for the tapuai'ga. Fa'afetai tele.
The Talavalu 2013 7's Rugby team made history by qualifying American Samoa for the first time for the Hong Kong Sevens and Commonwealth Games. Samoa News understands the team is said to be made up of ‘rugby players who turned up for the last day of practice’ — so they are supposedly not the best, however, they have certainly proved otherwise — the team has the thanks of American Samoa for representing us well. Malo le loto toa. Fa'afetai finau.
Terry Custodio Auva'a contributed to this story.
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