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5th Coca Cola Marist Pago Flag Day Intl Sevens kicks off today

Taupa’u Tauileave Toluono

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — There will be action galore in store for rugby sevens enthusiasts starting at 9 o’clock this morning at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, as the 5th Coca Cola Marist Pago Flag Day International Sevens 2024 Tournament kicks off.

Marist Sports Club President Taupa’u Tauileave Toluono told Samoa News yesterday, that everything is going according to plan and all the teams, officials and referees from Samoa and Hawaii have arrived.

All of them traveled over at their own expense except for last year’s champions Marist St. Joseph whose return tickets were paid for by the tournament’s organizing committee.

A total of eight teams have pulled out of this year’s tournament for various reasons and they include Laulii (Samoa), Safety, Marist Auckland, Vaiala, Alalagafa, Bula Fiji, Nu’uuli and Laulii Moli o le Ava.

They have been replaced by eight teams from Samoa and American Samoa.

Taupa’u stated that they are optimistic that everything will run smoothly today and that their only concern is the weather.

He stated that the high level of rugby action today is guaranteed because of the participation of the teams from Samoa, especially the powerhouses of rugby from Moata’a, Tepatasi, Tamauli, Marist St. Joseph and Apia Maroons.

Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga will be delivering his official remarks on the second and final day of the tournament, tomorrow, before game time.

Also scheduled in tomorrow’s program will be the Marist Pago Legends Announcements, an initiative with a similar objective of a National Rugby Hall of Fame, to recognize and celebrate local individuals who have helped build American Samoa rugby over the years.

The inaugural class was “inducted” during last year’s tournament with the likes of Rev. Patolo Mageo, Annie Coffin and the late Aumoeualogo Te’o Fuavai.

Members of the Class of 2024 Legends will be announced tomorrow and they include former coach and manager in the early years of the sport's development in American Samoa, the late Leroy Lutu, and former player Peni Teumalu.

Former player, coach and the first and only player from American Samoa to be selected in the Manu Samoa 15-a-side squad, Setefano Fata, who recently relocated to the mainland.

Also recognized were those in executive positions who made decisions that moved rugby forward, such as former governor and current Senator Togiola T.A. Tulafono.

One of the first internationally certified rugby officials for American Samoa, the late Afoa Fepuleai Titi Nofoagatoto'a will also be posthumously recognized.

Wrapping up the Class of 2024 Legends list, is former American Samoa national player Keith McFall who began his career at Avele College in Samoa, where he was selected as a member of the national Under 19 national team.

He relocated to the Territory in the 1980's where he became renowned for his elusive runs as a halfback and was selected as a national rep on numerous occasions until his retirement.

Last night, a welcoming Ava ceremony (Ava o le Feiloaiga) was performed by hosts Marist Pago Sports Club at their headquarters at the Senator Inouye Industrial Park in Tafuna, for coaches and managers of the off-island teams.