By Unumoe Esera
APIA: Monday 23 July 2012: The William Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup Trophy 2011 won by the All Blacks almost a year ago, arrived in Samoa early today accompanied by the winning coach Sir Graham Henry, and player Leaupepe Victor Vito and an official of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Samoa to celebrate the 50th Independence and Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa. The rugby element between the two nations makes it a great idea,” said New Zealand High Commissioner, His Excellency Nick Hurley.
He said that the initiative to bring the Cup to Samoa was came about after he asked the Government and Samoa Rugby Union whether they wanted to have the Webb Ellis trophy brought over here and received an enthusiastic response from them.
“The Webb Ellis Cup has a magic aura and it has special requirements. You are not allowed to touch it unless you are the winning team,” said HE Nick Hurley. He said only Sir Graham Henry and Leaupepe Victor Vito would be able to touch it and the person accompanying them would have to wear gloves to hold or touch the trophy.
The NZ High Commissioner stated this visit was an important opportunity for the public.
“It’s an opportunity to display and see the cup and also learn from the expertise of Sir Graham Henry and facilitate with the Samoa Rugby Union and his contribution to the growth of rugby in Samoa,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Rugby Union Fred Amoa encouraged the public to have a good turn out on Monday during the parade in front of the Government building for the RWC.
“I urge the public to show support and take photos. It is a great honor to have the cup on our shores. I am very appreciative of these efforts to celebrate with the 50th Independence. This visit will also motivate and inspire our local rugby players. We are all proud of this achievement as many of our Samoan sons overseas are playing for the All Blacks,” he said.
HE Nick Hurley also stated that he was “very keen to get it (RWC) Savaii so people in the Big island can get to see it for themselves.”
Fred Amoa also encouraged the people in Savaii to show support and take photos when the RWC arrives there.
Representative for the Samoa Tourism Authority Adeline Hunkin-Laumua also said a few words about their contribution to this tour.
“This is an opportunity for the general public to see it (RWC) for themselves and the Samoa Tourism Authority are very happy to work together with the NZ High Commission, Samoa Rugby Union, Westpac and Ministry of Police and Prisons to welcome the Webb Ellis trophy and sponsor this event while it comes to life,” she said.
She encouraged the public to join together in celebrating the official welcoming of the Webb Ellis trophy during the parade which will take place starting from the Police Headquarters to the Government Building at Eleele fou at 3:45 pm on Monday next week.
Representative for Westpac Bank, Amaramo Sialaoa acknowledged their partnership with SRU, NZ High Commission, STA and Police.
“Westpac are delighted to have the opportunity to work together to make this event happen. We have a long standing relationship with the Samoa Rugby Union and have made an important contribution to this trip and hope the public will enjoy it,” he said.
Fred also mentioned that coaching clinics for schools would be setup at Leifiifi College on Monday morning at 9 am for coaches and school First XV rugby teams. He said many schools had applied but only 7 to 10 schools had been selected to take part.
“Not everyone will be trained but we will work from group to group. It is a rare opportunity to meet the All Blacks coach and use his knowledge and expertise to share with students and coaches. We really appreciate the NZ Government for receiving this request,” he said.
The New Zealand High Commissioner acknowledged all those who worked together to make this visit possible.
“I thank the New Zealand Government, the collective efforts of the Samoa Tourism Authority, Westpac, Samoa Rugby Union and Police for this wonderful effort of collaboration,” he said.
He also said that the Cup required protection and police would have it under surveillance at all times.
The Webb Ellis RWC Trophy 2011, Sir Graham Henry and Leaupepe Victor Vito will depart Samoa on Wednesday 25th July 2012 at 12:45pm.