by Chloe Chomicki

Festivities continue surrounding the Marist International Sports Week with a traditional ‘ava ceremony at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel on Thursday in preparation for the much-anticipated Vailima Marist International Sevens at Apia Park this weekend. 

 

Teams, managers, and guests were welcomed by representatives of the Marist organisation and many partook in its valued customs to mark the important occasion. 

Falefata Hele Matatia Director of the Rugby 7s and Marist Executive explained the importance of the today's events prior to the tournament. “This is the traditional welcome of our culture, for Samoa to welcome not only our overseas teams but also our local team managers,” Falefata said. “We are here today not only to welcome our guests but to hold a managers meeting and introduce the tournament manual containing tournament information, the rule book, and everything that needs to be respected about the tournament.”

From Australia, acting as Head Match Official for the tournament is World Rugby Sevens 2016/17 referee Jordan Way who was also present for the ceremony and meeting. “To be invited here today to be a part of something so traditional meaning so much to the Samoan culture is so unreal,” Mr Way said. “I’m looking forward to the tournament, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.”

Douglas Sanft, Head Coach of Stallions, was also in attendance and was excited for the tournament ahead. “We’re confident for the next two days, but at the same time there are a lot of good teams that will be participating.” 

Various local and international teams will be playing at this year's rugby tournament alongside last year’s champions the Auckland Marist St. Joseph. Stallions and Auckland Marist are the two teams from New Zealand in the tournament. 

“Having two teams from New Zealand come on board will not only expose our local players to different techniques but it will also bring a lot of international attention to our tournament with draw cards such as ex-New Zealand All Blacks and ex-New Zealand Sevens players on both the Stallions and the Auckland Marist team.” Falefata said. “We are looking forward to quality matches for both days and a very exciting time at Apia Park.”

The 29th Vailima Marist International Sevens will be held at Apia Park on Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th of February. General Admission is ST$5.00 per person, side stand tickets are ST$10.00 per person and centre stand are ST$20.00 per person.

* Chloe Chomicki is one of three media exchange students from James Cook University studying at the NUS Media School. They are assisting the Media Team of the Marist International Sports Week.