BY Lance Polu
APIA: MONDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2014: The 26th Marist Sevens major sponsor has challenged Manu Samoa’s current sevens IRB rating.
The CEO of the weekend tournaments major sponsor, Alfred Chan of Vailima Breweries said Samoa’s current rating (dropping from 5th to 7th) in the IRB circuit should be much better given the high quality of the players in last weekend tournament.
Two time champions Vailele managed to stay above a gutsy challenge by first-time finalists Lauli’i Lions that pushed the experienced Vailele side to the edge to claim a14-5 victory.
Vailele fielded the Samoa Sevens captain Reupena Levasa, playmaker Sani Niue, Levi Asi Faamatala and names such as Mikaele Pesamino and Simaika Mikaele and its experience managed to hold to the end in very wet and slippery conditions.
“The courage shown by Lauli’i Lions today warms my heart,” says Alfred Chan in acknowledging a scintillating finals and the overall tournament that has exposed some local talent from Savai’i and outlying clubs on Upolu that could make the sevens fold.
“We should be up there with New Zealand and South Africa,” said Chan and acknowledging the presence of the All Blacks Sevens side TJForbes and playmaker Tomasi Cama who were the tournament’s special guests along with top international referee James Bolabiu of Fiji.
In the tournaments opening, the Prime Minister and chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union challenged the selectors and Coaches to widen their selection to the 40 rugby clubs under the Rugby Union rather than limiting selection to only a few unions.
The Marist Sevens has showcased local talent and has seen a shift from the traditional rugby powers such as Moata’a, Marist, Vaiala, Apia and SCOPA who failed to reach the Cup championships round.
Emerging names this year include two Aleipata sides in Tepatasi and Satitoa and the Sala’ilua team from Savaii Island.
Gone forever as it seems is Tuamasaga who is only but a name from the distant glory days not even being represented at this year’s tournament.
Special guests TJForbes and Tomasi Cama acknowledged the growth and quality of the sport and rugby in general in Samoa.
Forbes who is nephew of the late Papali’itele Peter Fatifalofa, tried for a spot in the Samoan side in 2003, and went on to lead the All Blacks sevens now leading the 2014 IRB sevens circuit.
This year marks the 26 Marists Sevens tournament as well as the 40 years of the Marist Sports Club that has contributed a lot to sports development as well as rugby in Samoa.
Previous Marist Sevens tournaments have seen the likes of John Gallagher, the Whetton Twins, Vaaiga Tuigamala, the Ella brothers, Campese, Michael Jones, Serevi, John Schuster and many other legends of the sport brace the rugby fields at Apia Park and inspired many local rugby players.
The Marist International 7s, has also showcased the best and most exciting rugby talent Samoa offers. Players such as Taufusi Salesa, Lolani Koko, Too Vaega, the legendary Brian Lima and Sila Vaifale. The Maestro Uale Mai, Lolo Lui and Mikaele Pesamino to name a few of the exceptional players who have donned the Marist Samoa 7s colors.