TMO Marist 7s Flag Day Tournament — last hurrah
The 3rd and last TMO Marist American Samoa 7s Flag Day Tournament will take place at the Tafuna Veterans Stadium this Friday and Saturday, the 11th and 12th of April.
Eight local teams will play for the championship Cup and $10,000 first prize. They are: A’asu, Avele, Tafuna Jets, Marist, Nu’uuli, Lauli’i, Lalomalava, and Leone.
They will do battle against 15 teams from Samoa: Vaiala, Vailele, Vaimoso, Valima Marist St. Joseph, Vailima Pure Marist Angels, Apia Maroons, Laulii Lions, Taga Blow Holes, Fa'atoia, Satitoa, Tepatasi, Lalomauga, Neiafu - Itu Asau, Nofoali'i, and Maota Togo A’asa.
TMO, the tournament’s major sponsor is proud to feature profiles of the 15 teams from Samoa and the 8 local teams that will play.
Today, TMO presents a team profile of the Vailele team from Samoa, winners of the 2014 Vailima Marist Samoa International Sevens Tournament at Apia Park.
Vailele determined to reach cup final
The Vailele Sevens team is a team on a mission.
Eliminated in the semifinals of the Tautua Mo Oe Marist American Samoa International Sevens Tournament Cup competition for the last two years, they are gearing up with a vengeance, determined to make the final this year.
Last year’s semifinal loss to eventual champions BBE Vaiala Ulalei was indeed a bitter experience as victory was within their grasp, but agonizingly, it slipped away when Vaiala managed to keep the ball in play and score the winning try after the hooter had already sounded!
The year before that, Tepatasi kept them from advancing to the final by overtaking them with a try in the dying seconds.
“Twice, we were denied victory and a chance to play in the final,” lamented Head Coach Fataalii Milovale Moke. “But no one is to blame but ourselves. The boys just lost focus in the final minutes and made silly mistakes which our opponents capitalized on. This year, we are determined not to make the same mistakes.”
The irony of their situation is, of all the local teams in Samoa, Vailele boasts the most players in the Manu Samoa Sevens team, including the captain Reupena Levasa!
Their four players currently in the national team are Levasa, Sani Niue, Levi Asi-Faamatala and Richie Ah Chong.
Levasa who pulled out of the last two legs of the ongoing IRB World Sevens Circuit in Japan and Hong Kong because of injury, has been declared fit and will be leading his club to the 3rd Annual Tautua Mo Oe Marist American Samoa International Sevens Tournament this weekend.
Also in the lineup for Pago is Samoa Toloa who was a member of the Manu Samoa Sevens squad earlier this year, plus Tofatu Solia, Faatonu Kalapu and Veni Solo who were all picked in the Manu Samoa Sevens training squad from which the final team was selected.
These up-and-coming players, together with a handful of young promising players selected from the club’s Under 20 squad, will be complemented by veterans Simaika Mikaele and Mikaele Pesamino who were part of the Manu Samoa Sevens team that created Sevens rugby history by winning the 2010 IRB World Sevens Circuit.
“These two veterans are household names in Samoa and their experience will be invaluable and an inspiration to the younger players,” said Coach Fataalii.
Fataalii himself is an inspiration to the older players who grew up watching him play halfback for the Manu Samoa 15-a-side squad from 1988 to 1990.
The Vailele coach who is assisted by Togia Falaniko and manager Taau Taauso, said that they are concentrating on improving their fitness level and defense strategy leading up to this weekend’s tourney.
This should not be hard since they recently claimed the championship title of this year’s Annual Vailima Marist Samoa International Sevens Tournament last month, where speedster Richie Ah Chong recorded the most tries and the Most Valuable Player Award.
Last year, they won the Apia Rugby Union Sevens tourney and three legs of the Samoa Rugby Union National Sevens Circuit which was eventually won by the Apia Maroons.
“We have let our village and supporters down twice,” Coach Fataalii said. “This time, it will be do or die. We will throw everything we have at them and bring the cup home.”
Brave words indeed, but with the way the standard of the game has progressed, you can never be sure, as was aptly illustrated by Japan’s 42-12 thrashing of the Manu Samoa in Japan recently.
However, one thing is for certain, Vailele will be out for blood in Pago with a hiss and a roar!