Pacific Games-bound Samoa Touch Rugby Inc is ready for the Pacific Games eyeing the gold medal and exerting revenge on rivals Papua New Guinea.
President of STRI Matiu Tuileva said their athletes are physically prepared and looking forward to this year’s competition in the Solomon Islands and are out on a mission to beat PNG after its men’s and mixed divisions teams lost to the Melanesian champions in 2019.
“Team Samoa made it to the finals in both the men’s and mixed divisions during the Pacific Games 2019 narrowly losing to PNG while the women’s team won the bronze medal,” said Tuileva. “Samoa Touch’s goal in this year’s Pacific Games is winning gold and maintaining its top three ranking in the region.
“It was a very close game, but we lost to them and that’s our main aim this year, which is to redeem ourselves, go for gold and maintain our top ranking in the Pacific. The physical side of things is going well but it’s just the concern of our players getting weary.
“We have been training now for the whole of October and it is going well but I think the mental preparation has taken a toll on some of our athletes because it’s been over two months of just training.”
They have 28 players, 14 men and women, travelling to the Solomon Islands and will compete in three divisions – open men’s, open women’s and mixed.
“We just finished our national elite touch championship in August this year where we selected a wider training squad of about 35 men and women. After a month of long training, we announced our final squad at the end of September so now we are down to 14 men and 14 women.
“We still have about three weeks until the Pacific Games. Our games are on the second week so we are only travelling to the Solomon Islands on the second week of the games and unfortunately miss out on the opening but will be there for the closing before returning on 4 December.”
The Pacific Games will take place in the Solomon Islands later this month from 19 November to 2 December 2023. Touch rugby is on the second week of the games from 27 November to 2 December. Next year is the Touch World Cup in England so immediately after the Pacific Games, the Samoan sporting organisation will switch focus to the Touch World Cup in July. The Touch Rugby Association will hold a fundraising event to help pay off their contribution of SAT$1000 (US$359.28) per athlete and team manager which covers their flight and accommodation in the Solomon Islands.