The Moataa Whites have come away from the Big Island with the $15k tala prize money after edging out Laumua o Tumua Afega in the finals of the Vodafone Iva Savaii International 7s held at Prince Edward Park over the weekend.
It was a hard earned fight in a 19-17 final with both sides scoring three tries each and Moataa popping over two conversions off the boot of former Manu Samoa 7s squad member, David Tavita Leiataualesa.
Moataa and Laumua Tumua met fierce competition in the road to the finals, all teams vying for the 15k winning prize money to mark the celebration of 15 years since Iva EFKS Youth have been hosting rugby 7s on the Big Island.
Moataa met the Laulii Lions in the quarterfinal and defeated Safotu in the semifinals while Laumua o Tumua Afega edged out BBE Vaiala in the quarters and had to face the might of Savaii heroes Tama Uli in the semis.
The 2023 Miss Iva Youth Tausala presented the finalists with gold and silver medals in what was a well organised event to international 7s rugby standards.
Third place was taken by Safotu who defeated Tama Uli while Laulii Lions beat BBE Vaiala to take 5th place this year. Twelve teams attended the Iva tournament this year, with Tepatasi, Vaimoso, Apia and Safotu notably missing from this year’s event.
Moataa rugby 7s has been in rebuild mode for the past few years and this win will go a long way to further ignite the development of the club that was once a consistently successful rugby 7s outfit in Samoa.
The Iva Savai’i 7s is an initiative started by Reveran Tonu Mauafu of Iva EFKS. He tells the story of how brawls and violent fighting between rugby teams was a common feature of games played at the Prince Edward Park over 15 years ago.
“So I thought, we have to change this. Prince Edward Park was built for the development of youth and yet, it is a place for brawls..”
“So I called in some contacts and friends from Marist and we started the Iva Savaii 7s, 15 years ago, and here we are today..”
Reverend Tonu’s youth have become well accustomed to organising the annual event hosting draws of 16 teams even up to 32 teams one year.
Next year, two Australian rugby 7s teams have been confirmed to attend.
Meantime several local rugby teams are heading to New Zealand next month to attend and participate in the Marist Pacific International 7s.