American Samoa becomes Full Member of IRB
21 May 2012: The IRB Council has approved the application from the American Samoa Rugby Football Union (ASRFU) to become a full member after it successfully fulfilled the criteria to be upgraded from associate membership.
The Union, which is part of the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU), has 18 affiliated clubs and runs senior men’s, senior women’s and junior competitions under its auspices.
IRB Council was in agreement with an IRB Executive Committee recommendation to approve the application subject to a review being conducted within 24 months to ascertain ASRFU’s continued progression to make sure the Union is worthy of retaining that new status.
“The IRB is delighted to welcome American Samoa as the latest Full Member,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“The ASRFU is a structured organisation that has demonstrated strong governance principles and a robust administration.
It has demonstrated a determination to grow the Game within the country. The IRB is committed to developing Rugby around the world and this is yet another step along that path,” said Lapasset.
In a statement today, Governor of American Samoa and Chairman of ASRU, Togiola Tulafono says: “I thank the IRB for this blessing and the expression of confidence in us, and we will endeavor to live up to the rigors of such membership and do our part to promote rugby as a way of developing our youth in American Samoa.
“Our young people now have the opportunities to be exposed to international competition and potential employment that was not available to them before.
“To be sure, ASRU could not have done this by itself. I am very grateful and appreciative of the help and assistance of the Honorable Lefau Harry Schuster, President of the Federation Oceania Rugby Unions, who has worked with us and guided us from the reorganization of the American Samoa Rugby Union two years ago through the reformation of the Constitution and the union affairs, and the process of applying for admission as a full member in a timely manner.
“We are fortunate to be able to become a member of IRB now that rugby unions from non independent countries can no longer become members of IRB outside of their administering countries. We are the last non independent country to achieve this, and we must hang on to it for we can never cross this path again if we lose it.
“I am indebted to the Samoa Rugby Union, USA Rugby Union, and the North America and Carribean Rugby Unions for their support of our efforts to become an IRB member. We could have never done this without their support, especially with the guiding hand of the Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, who has extended the assistance of SRU at every step of the way towards this achievement.
“Last but not the least, I thank all the member clubs of the American Samoa Rugby Football Union for doing their part to demonstrate that we are a Union that is prepared to take on serious responsibilities and live up to the high standards and expectations of IRB. The more difficult work, however, remains and that is keeping up our responsibilities as a Union. Our membership will come up for review again in 24 months, to make sure that we continue to do all the right things and are developing the game for men and women of American Samoa.”
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States and a meeting took place at the 10th IRB General Assembly in 2011 with the IRB, ASRFU and USA Rugby all being represented with matters of eligibility being set. ASRFU is recognised by the American Samoa National Olympic Committee.
This decision is subject to a review being conducted within 24 months of the award of full member status to confirm that the Union has progressed and is worthy of retaining that status. Following these admissions, the IRB is now made up of 98 Full Members and 20 Associate Members.