The American Samoa Sevens team that was part of an intensive training camp with Cook Islands at the Australian Institute of Sport. [photo: IRB.com]

The IRB’s regional association in Oceania, the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU), held a Sevens academy camp for development Unions American Samoa and Cook Islands last month in order to prepare the teams for their participation at the HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Hong Kong in late March. The two emerging nations qualified for the renowned Hong Kong event through the 2013 Oceania Sevens Championship.

The camp was jointly funded by FORU and Oceania National Olympic Commitees (ONOC). The two organisations have a memorandum of understanding in place aimed at maximising the number of Oceania teams competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and ensuring that they compete to their best ability.

Cook Islands and American Samoa finished fourth and fifth respectively behind Samoa, Fiji and Australia at the 2013 Oceania Sevens to qualify for Hong Kong. This means there will be six Oceania teams competing in Hong Kong. New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Samoa in the main 16-team World Series competition and American Samoa and Cook Islands in the 12-team World Series core team qualifier tournament from which the winner will win promotion to the nine-tournament World Series in 2014/15.

Rugby Union has been played in American Samoa since 1924 but the American Samoa Rugby Union was only established in 1990 and it became fully affiliated to the IRB in 2012. It is already making great progress in Sevens.

Excited to qualify for Hong Kong

Vice-captain and centre Kamilo Soi said: “The team was very excited to be invited to the AIS in Canberra and to qualify for Hong Kong for the first time ever. The camp was a great opportunity to gain more knowledge and technical skills on Sevens as this type of training is important if we are to improve. We have worked hard on set pieces such as restarts and lineouts and we are very grateful to the specialist coaches who have spent time with us.”

American Samoa coach Setefano Fata added: “The AIS is a very impressive set-up and the boys have learned a lot at the camp. The team is learning about the discipline required on and off the field to be competitive at this level and the technical and tactical sessions have been great.

“As a coach, I have learned how to look at Sevens in a more professional way. Scott and Willie have made me understand the finer points and the way Sevens is played at the highest levels. With this new knowledge I can revise our game plan for Hong Kong and in the coming weeks we will practice and adjust our play as we prepare for the tournament.”


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