Marist 33rd International Sevens set for kick off
The Marist 33rd International Sevens rugby tournament is all set to go with 24 men and women teams confirmed to participate in the two-day series.
The tournament director Taupau Alex Mikaele confirmed in an interview with the Samoa Observer that there will be no international teams competing this year due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
"As of now we are still in the S.O.E. orders for COVID-19 that's why teams from overseas cannot participate this year,” he said. “So there are no international teams this year for the sevens competition but we are still maintaining the status international of the Marist Sevens.
“This year we will continue with the format as of last year.”
There will be 16 teams in the men’s division and eight teams in the women’s division.
"The Marist Sevens are through invitations only because there's a lot of teams (local clubs), we have identified a list of teams for us to consider and we have sent out invitations, so all those teams have been placed in their positions,” said Taupau. “And have been given their invitation letters and they have responded that they are interested and have paid their registration before the deadline.
“Those are our criteria, once you don't meet the deadline, we give the spots to the next best team on the standby list.”
According to Taupau, the overall objective of the tournament is to provide a platform for players to showcase their talents and passion for rugby, which would enable the tournament to continue to feed the best talents identified to the national teams.
"The objective still is once again to provide that platform for our elite players as I mentioned Marist sevens is the pinnacle of sevens competitions in Samoa," he said. “So this gives the platform for elite athletes especially in the men's and women's division to excel in their sports but at the same time we do have other players that sometimes don't get that spotlight.
“This is their chance to bring their talent and showcase in the Marist platform and we never know we might have, as done in the past as well, we had players that you know, weren't selected for the national teams but they always get picked out from the Marist Sevens.
“That's one of the objectives and the club has some persistence to still go through with the sevens competition this year.”
And the tournament in 2021 is not the first time for the tournament to be without international teams, says Taupau who indicated that it has happened in previous years.
"The Marist has had previously hosted the tournament without any international teams but this year will be no different regards to no international teams previously as I mentioned before, the Marist sports club still maintains the status of the Marist sevens in terms of the implementation of how the tournament is being run.
“That's how the Marist sevens gained their international status from the planning and execution of the whole competition rather than having teams international participating.”
The tournament is scheduled to be held 26–27 February with the first day of the tournament featuring pool games for both the men and women pools followed by the playoff and finals on the second day.