A major milestone for Samoan Rugby has been reached with the official opening of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) High Performance Facility in Faleata.
Works on the first phase of the impressive state-of-the-art complex have been completed in time for the Samoa national team to fine tune preparations for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand and is the first facility of its kind in the country.
The Facility boasts a High Performance gym, recovery and rehabilitation centre, two new training pitches, accommodation for up to 90 athletes and a dedicated and centralized administration centre for SRU staff.
The opening represents an important milestone for the SRU High Performance Programme, which is underwritten by International Rugby Board strategic funding generated by the commercial revenues from Rugby World Cup.
The International Rugby Board has contributed over GBP 1 million (about $1.6 million) to the project, which has been delivered in partnership with the Samoan Government who has donated 36 hectares of land at the Faleata Sports Complex.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The IRB is committed to the development of Rugby throughout Oceania in order to increase competitiveness and is investing GBP 17 million in the Region between 2009 and 2012."
"The opening of the first phase of the High Performance Facility represents a significant boost for the development of Rugby in Samoa, underlines the IRB's commitment to increasing competitiveness and comes at a time when Samoan Rugby is on a high."
"Samoa’s High Performance programme continues to achieve success in Fifteens and Sevens with the senior national Fifteens side recording an impressive victory over Australia in Sydney in July."
"It is fitting that the Facility will be ready for Manu Samoa to complete their Rugby World Cup 2011 preparations and we are delighted to be entering an exciting new era for Samoan Rugby."
“This project would not have been possible without the significant support of the Samoan Government, and on behalf of the IRB I would like to extend our gratitude to the Prime Minister and his Government for the donation of land on which this impressive Facility is being constructed and for the support that they have shown throughout the process."
Rugby is the national sport in Samoa and as excitement builds with the start of Rugby World Cup 2011 less than a month away, the SRU High Performance Facility is central to the Union’s Sevens and Fifteens aspirations over the next decade.
IRB Council Member for Oceania, Tauili’ili Harry Schuster said: “This has been a combined vision and partnership for the IRB and the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) and we are proud that today we are turning that vision into a reality. The ultimate goal of the High Performance Facility is very simple, to produce world class Rugby talent with the highest potential to succeed at international level.”
The Facility will be put through its paces by Manu Samoa, who begin their RWC 2011 campaign against Namibia on September 14.
Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said: "For our team to experience first-hand the fruits of the High Performance vision on the eve of their Rugby World Cup journey is extremely motivating, and one which will hopefully inspire them to great things in New Zealand."
"The reality of the High Performance vision can now be clearly seen by all, which will hopefully serve to inspire the future generation of Rugby players, both men and women in Samoa."