APIA: Tuesday 08 May 2012:The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions has unanimously re- elected Lefau Harry Schuster from Samoa to continue as FORU President and represents the region in the International Rugby Board Council and represents the region on the IRB’s Rugby Committee and Advisory Committee on Player Movement and Transfers. The appointment is for four years.
FORU also retained Andy Conway of Australia and Richard Sapias of Papua New Guinea as Executive members. Stephen Cottrell of New Zealand who had ably served FORU as its Secretary General withdrew because of work commitment and was succeeded by Nick Brown of New Zealand.
The second Executive member elected by the meeting was Charles Tauziet of Tahiti who replaces John Wichmann of Cook Islands who had stepped down from his post as President of the Cook Island Rugby Union to devote more time to his family business commitments.
Governor Togiola Tulafono of American Samoa was nominated to one of the 2 Executive members and was strongly supported at the meeting but the Governor withdrew his nomination as he desired to concentrate on developing Rugby in American Samoa who is seeking to be admitted as a full member of the IRB this year.
In re- electing Lefau Harry Schuster the Region will be represented by Lefau in the IRB Council and benefit from his continuing representation on the IRB’s Rugby Committee and Advisory Committee on Player Movement and Transfers.
The elections were held at FORU’s 12th Annual General Meeting and Workshops for development of Rugby in the Region in the Cook Islands from Monday 30th April to Wednesday 2nd May 2012.
The meeting was attended by all 14 Full members of FORU – American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Also attending was FORU’s sole Associate Member Wallis and Futuna.
Mark Egan attended on behalf of the IRB and Dennis Miller attended on behalf of the Oceania National Olympic Committee.
A highlight of the meeting was the fact that the New Zealand Rugby Union and the International Rugby Board had permitted the William Webb Ellis trophy renamed by the New Zealand Rugby Union as Wiremu that was accompanied by All Black star Jerome Kaino to the Cook Islands at the same time FORU held its AGM.
FORU is the IRB’s smallest of the IRB’s 6 Rugby Regions in respect of number of members countries in the Region and number of players in the Region, but in spite of its small numbers FORU is one of the most dominant Rugby Regions in that 2 of its members in New Zealand and Australia have won the men’s 15s RWC twice, with New Zealand being the current World Champion.
In the men’s 7s New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa are the 3 FORU teams that have won the IRB’s 7s World Sevens Series with New Zealand and Fiji having also being crowned as the IRBs 7s RWC champions.
In the Women’s competition New Zealand has won the IRB’s Women’s 15s RWC 3 times in a row, with Australia the current IRB 7s RWC champion which Australia earned by defeating New Zealand in the final at the Dubai event in 2009.
The FORU members approved their Strategic Plan for the next 4 years and shall participate in the FORU-IRB competitions to improve their performances and standing in IRB World rankings in both the 15s and 7s versions of the game.
One of the areas the Region will concentrate on is Women’s Rugby to try and qualify as many Women’s teams from FORU in the IRB RWC in 2013, the IRB 7s World series for Women’s teams that will commence from 2013 with 8 core teams, and the Olympics in 2016.The men’s teams from New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Australia are all in the top 6 and the Region will push to have Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and the other FORU members contest the IRBs 7s competitions to improve their rankings and get as many FORU teams into the IRBs 7s series and Olympics.