Savae La’auli Sir Michael Jones salutes the Marist International Sevens
By Staff Reporters
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2018: The former Moata’a captain who lifted the Championship Cup in the inaugural Marist International Sevens in 1987, has saluted “the Marist fraternity for having the vision and determination to establish this event and showcasing it every year since 1987.”
Savae La’auli Sir Michael Jones paid tribute to the Marist Sevens Organizers as the tournament celebrates its’ 30th anniversary at the ACP Stadium, Lotopa today and tomorrow.
“In having the privilege to play in the very first Marist International Sevens tournament in 1987 for my Club Moata’a, it is a privilege and honour to pass on my congratulations and fa’amalo to those visionary Marist men who dreamed and then birthed this iconic event those many years ago, and those administrators and volunteers who have faithfully delivered a world class event every year since.”
He said the completion was “world class” and quickly established itself as the Toughest 7’s Competition in the World.
“These aren’t just my words, but comments I have heard time and time again from the many All Blacks, Wallabies, Manu Samoa players who were privileged to play in it over the years. Notably 7’s Legend Eric Rush, All Blacks Buck Shelford, Sir John Kirwan, John Gallagher, the Whetton Brothers, Inga Tuigamala, Andrew Blowers and John Schuster, Wallaby Tim Horan, and Manu legends, Apollo Perelini, and Filipo Saena, just to name a few.
“As I reflect on the past 30 years, one of the great rugby highlights of my life was lifting the inaugural Polynesian Airlines Marist 7’s trophy as Captain of the Moata’a team in 1987 and again in 1988. I count it one of the great honours of my rugby career, not only because I was able to play with dear brothers and great Manu players such as Taufusi Salesa, Anetele’a Aiolupo, Danny Kaleopa, Filipo Saena, Apollo Perelini, To’o Vaega, to name a few, but also that I could represent my village, family and aiga in this premier 7’s event.”
Sir Michael who played 55 tests for the All Blacks, played for Samoa in 1986 and was also Head Coach of Manu Samoa 2004-2007.
He praised the local talent saying “Every local club team we played was overflowing with some of the most naturally gifted (and toughest) players I had ever played against, whether that be Vaiala, SCOPA, Marist St Josephs, Aleipata, A’ana, Tuamasaga, Apia or Vaimoso and as always the crowd favourite, the Savai’i teams.”
The Marist International Sevens has been the platform that showcased, exposed and launched the careers of so many young aspiring Manu Samoa players.
“For this, I will always be grateful for the privilege of playing in this iconic premier Rugby 7’s event in the world and the unique and significant role it has played in building our beloved game in Samoa.”
The International Sevens tournament is the culmination of the Marist Sports Week that includes Netball, Touch Rugby, Boxing, Rugby League, and Golf in an effort to further develop Samoan sports.