Inaugural Fa’atonu Fili 7s this weekend


Strap on the afterburners, the sevens season is here.

The 2019/20 summer of sevens starts this Saturday at Rongotai College with the inaugural Fa’atonu Fili 7s tournament, hosted by Toki Services.

Nine Wellington club squads and a ‘Fa’atonu Fili 7’ team will take the field on Rongotai No. 1 for 24 games starting at 9.00am and finishing at approximately 4.25pm when the first champion will be found.

Club teams from Hutt Old Boys Marist, Johnsonville, Northern United, Old Boys-University, Oriental-Rongotai, Petone, Poneke, Tawa and Wellington will be joined by Fili’s invitational Boys in Da Hood team.

Fa’atonu Fili playing for Marist St Pat’s.

Fili, who made his Wellington club rugby Premier debut in 2001 and recently helped Marist St Pat’s win the 2019 Hardham Cup, said he was humbled to be asked to put his name to this tournament.

“I felt there were so many others who have contributed just as much to the community and deserved recognition more than me. But after a few talks with close friends the key word for me was community, so in the end it’s just a big honour for myself and our whole family.”

Fili said his role this Saturday will most likely be on the sideline rather than on the field.

“I am helping out with our boys just wherever I’m needed. But we have just been playing touch the last couple of Sundays which has been good but we will get a few trainings in this week and see how we go. The boys that can’t play are running it so it’s been real helpful.”

He downplayed talk of any secret weapons turning up to play to play for his team.

“Just my family and mainly the MSP players I’ve played with over my time. There were a few Ories boys as well, but they had to pull out due to niggles and family commitments. But I am excited to have my close friend Sio tuia coming from Melbourne to support so I know he will be keen to lace up the boots.”

Fili played sevens for Samoa for several years earlier in his career.

With this tournament at Rongotai College, he will be returning to where it all began. “I think my first proper tournament was a Samoan tournament at Rongotai. I played for our St Pat’s old boys team, we had a young Faifili Levave and we did okay.”

He rates his sevens debut for Samoa at Westpac Stadium in 2001 a career highlight, while playing at two Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2006 was also special, as was winning the national provincial title with Wellington in 2002 and, more recently, winning the Ulalei 7s tournament as a coach in 2016.

“I used to Love those tournaments,” he added. “Back in the day where teams were mixed up with your church boys, mates and club guys were always fun to be a part of. It doesn’t happen as much now with most of the sevens tournaments being run with just club teams. That’s still good but there’s only a small window now that nationals is run earlier too so it’s all cramped in but it’s all good.”

Tournament organiser Joe Fiu said this is a great way to kick-start the sevens season.

“We have got big plans for this tournament in the future as we already have interest from teams overseas and Auckland for the 2020 sevens calendar, “ Fiu said.

“For us [Toki], it’s great to see sevens back in the Easter Suburbs and at Rongotai College, which is one the best surfaces to play on no matter what time of the year, and here’s hoping the weather comes to the party and we can make it a great day for sevens that all families can enjoy.”

There will be a ROCO coffee kart serving up food and coffee during the day and there will also have a sausage sizzle sale by the changing rooms throughout the day.

Teams and Pools:

Pool A: Wellington, Poneke, Old Boys University, Tawa, Oriental-Rongotai

Pool B: Boys n Da Hood, Petone, Northern United, Johnsonville, Hutt Old Boys Marist


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