11 May 2016

Sport: SRU rugby academy underway in Samoa

12:04 pm on 11 May 2016

The new Samoa Rugby Union Academy will complete it's first round of training sessions in Apia this morning.

The academy is being funded by the SRU and World Rugby and the first intake of players includes 18 men and women ranging in age from 15 up.

Samoa Rugby's Director of Coaching Alama Ieremia will oversee the players development and will be heled by a number of other ex Manu Samoa internationals, including Semo Sititi and Potu Leavasa and Va'aiga Tuigamala.

SRU Development Co-ordinator Shalom Senara said the elite tier three players had their first training session yesterday with the rest joining in today.

"We just want to give our kids the best chance possible to become the best rugby players they can. From 15 to 18 is our tier one and tier two is 18 to 23 and tier three is basically a mixture of kids that are ready to play internationals. Tier three: they'll be training the most - including their games that they'll play on Saturday's they'll be training four times with us a week and tier one is twice, tier three is three times and the girls is three times a week."

Manu Samoa perform Siva Tau

The Samoa Rugby Union Academy hopes to produce future Manu Samoa internationals. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Shalom Senara said one of the key focuses will be on ensuring players at both club and school level improve in executing the basic skills of the game.

"I'm talking from guys catching, passing, doing your job first and that sort of stuff. It's also about these kids the guidance and values of rugby. Being islanders we've always got the natural flair - that comes without saying - but for me it's getting back to our grass-roots and just getting the basics back in there. Not just players, it's also regarding coaches. We've already done a few programmes with coaches in schools and coaches in villages. The academy officially launched on Friday but development wise we've actually been going for a while, just getting things up to scratch with schools and coaches."

Private rugby academies are already established in Samoa and other Pacific countries, including the Rugby Academy of Samoa, which is run by former Manu Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger.

Shalom Senara believed the two operations will complement each other.

"Me and Mahonri are actually good friends and at the end of the day there's no harm in having another academy - it's basically just giving these kids the best option. We've already had a couple of meetings with Mahonri and he's also aware that at the end of the day it always comes back to these kids."

Former Manu Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger taking a scrum session at the Rugby Academy of Samoa.

Former Manu Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger taking a scrum session at the Rugby Academy of Samoa. Photo: Rugby Academy Samoa