Rugby Legend Lilomaiava Taufusi Salesa calling for support to drive the annual Marist International Sevens
By Rula Su’a Vaai
APIA, SAMOA THURSDAY 08 FEBRUARY 2018: Rugby legend Lilomaiava Taufusi Salesa, is calling on the support of the Government and the public to drive the Marist International Sevens tournament to maintain its competitiveness in order to lift the standards of the game locally.
The call comes a week before the celebration of the 30 years of the annual Marist International Sevens 16 and 17 February where 24 Mens and 10 Womens teams will be competing including (for the very first time) two teams from China.
Launched in 1988, the tournament has inspired and nurtured many local rugby players who went on to represent Samoa internationally. Since the tournaments inception in 1988, it has been a platform where icons in the global game were brought in to play in Samoa and inspired a generation of young players.
Names such a former All Blacks, Buck Shelford, the Whetton brothers, Zinzan Brooke, John Kirwin, Sir Michael Jones, Terry Wright, Eric Rush, John Gallagher, John Schuster, Vaaiga Tuigamala and many others. And from Australia the Ella brothers, Wilie Ofahengaue and the maestro himself, Waisale Serevi of Fiji.
“For 30 years I have been observing the tournament, and it seems like there are more local teams now than overseas teams taking part, and that is why I call on the support from the Government and the public.”
Speaking with Talamua at his home at Taufusi, the former Director of the Rugby Development Program at the Samoa Rugby Union says the Marist Tournament plays a very significant role in the development of rugby in Samoa.
“Marist Sevens in our days was the only tournament that the players looked forward to, because it was the only tournament where we rubbed shoulders with international players and come face to face with international teams.”
“Marist Sevens was the pathway for our local players and taking part in the tournament was our platform to the outside world.”
Lilomaiava pointed out Michael Jones, Pat Lam, Alama Ieremia – to name a few who went on to play for New Zealand.
“We, Lolani Koko, Anitele’a Aiolupo, Filipo Saena, and To’o Vaega made it to Manu Samoa, all credit to the Marist Sevens.”
A keen observer and supporter of the game, Lilomaiava is urging the government and the public to give their full support whether financially or in kind for this tournament to help our young people who have the passion and dream to become rugby legends in the future.
The Marist International Sevens has been the platform that showcased home grown talents such as Lolo Lui, Reupena Levasa, Mikaele Pesamino, Uale Mai, Ofisa Treviranus, Alafoti Faosiliva and others who won Samoas’ only IRB Sevens series title in 2010.
This week the Marist Sports Week kicks off on with a Netball competition then followed by Golf, Touch Rugby, Rugby League and Boxing and culminating on the 30th Marist International Sevens 16 & 17 February at the Apia Park.