ASRU plans to take over the reins of Flag Day rugby 7s tournament next year
The American Samoa Rugby Union will take over next year hosting the Flag Day rugby 7s tournament, according ASRU chairman Togiola Tulafono in a recent letter to the Marist- St. Joseph- American Samoa organization, which has hosted the tournament for the last three years.
The TMO Marist American Samoa 7s rugby tournament for flag day, features Tautua Mo Oe (TMO) Family of Companies as the major corporate sponsor of the event, and has attracted to Pago Pago many rugby clubs from Samoa, as well as well known Oceania rugby referees.
In the last two Flag Day tournaments, it was the Vaiala rugby club of Samoa that has held the championship title; and last year’s tournament was sanctioned by the ASRU for the first time.
This year’s Flag Day TMO/Marist American Samoa 7s tournament was officially launched last Thursday during a short ceremony at Sadie’s By the Sea Samoan fale. It was announced that the tournament will be Apr. 11- 12 at the Veterans Memorial Stadium with 15 teams from Samoa and 8 local ones. (One more team from Samoa is awaiting confirmation to make 16 visiting teams, as of late Friday, Mar. 21.)
Marist-St. Joseph American Samoa tournament chairman Si’igava’a Tauleave Toluono says they are again able to host this year’s tournament, due to its major corporate sponsor, TMO, which includes TMO Hardware, TMO Wholesale, TMO Windows Plus and TMO Beverages. These companies are owned and managed by local businessman Frank Gaisoa, his wife and children.
The tournament organizer wasn’t able to immediate reveal the total monetary contribution for this year’s event, but Si’igava’a did say Marist has received a budget and money to officially launch the rugby tournament.
The list of confirmed teams for this year’s tournament was released during the news conference and includes Vaiala returning to defend their Championship title. Also revealed are some of the special guests attending the event, which includes three IRB referees and Lemalu Semo Sititi, former Manu Samoa captain. (See an advertisement printed in last Friday’s edition of Samoa News for more details on the teams and VIPs of the TMO Marist American Samoa 7’s Flag Day Tournament.)
Si’igava’a shared that the among the important aspects of this tournament, is a chance for individual players with American Samoa’s rugby clubs to play against players who have been in the game for many years, especially brothers from independent Samoa.
CHANGES NEXT YEAR
At the beginning of this year, ASRU chairman Togiola Tulafono sent a letter to the Marist-St. Joseph American Samoa board chairman Toleafoa Isitolo Wulf about ASRU’s decision to take over hosting the Flag Day 7’s rugby tournament.
Toleafoa responded in a Mar. 11 letter requesting a chance for Marist to organize and stage the tournament, because a lot of preparations have already begun and are completed as well as many teams from Samoa have confirmed their participation.
He also informed Togiola that any left over funds from this year’s tournament will be handed over to the ASRU to help further develop rugby in the territory.
Toleafoa, in his letter, stated the Marist organization has also agreed to turn over the Flag Day tournament to the ASRU beginning next year and would stand by to help in any way to assist rugby development.
On the same day as Toleafoa’s response, Mar. 11, Togiola responded in a letter saying the ASRU board accepted Marist’s request and that starting next year, the Flag Day rugby 7’s tournament will be hosted and organized by the ASRU.
Samoa News was told by Togiola, when asked for reasons behind the ASRU move to host the American Samoa Flag Day 7’s tournament that he would officially reply after they had returned from the Hong Kong 7’s Qualifier tourney.
In the meantime, Samoa News understands the Marist- St. Joseph American Samoa club/ organization is looking at continuing to host their TMO Marist American Samoa 7s tournament, one that would not be necessarily ASRU sanctioned.
The main thing is for American Samoa rugby to develop and offer opportunities for the players to participate on the international field, said one club member, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s about the game,” he said, “Nothing more, nothing less.”
The Talavalu team and officials left on the historic trip last week Friday, Mar. 21 and the tourney is expected to begin this Friday, Mar. 28, and last for 3 days.
(The original Samoan story was published in Saturday’s Samoa News weekend edition, To’asavili.)