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Players from all over Hawaii and coaches from all over the world convened December 9-11 for a three-day coaches and players camp in the nation’s 50th state.

Despite heavy rain that made for a muddy experience, coaches and players alike took home a great deal from the camp and clinic. Some of the kids had never seen a rugby ball before, and all learned from some of the best.

The idea was to help develop the game in Hawaii at the youth level, and also show players how rugby can offer opportunities for Hawaiian kids - boys and girls - looking to go to college.

Dubbed Game Plan Rugby Academy, the program was about rugby, but also more than that.

The courses were run by:
Dave Perrin – NZRU Regional Coach Development Manager (South Island - Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby coaching development since 1998)

Darryl Suasua - NZRU Regional Coach Development Manager (Northern Region and current Marist Head coach - past NZ Black ferns head coach)

Wesley Clarke - NZRU Regional Coach Development Manager (Central Region and curently Manawatu Turbo's coach)

Forty-five coaches came to learn at this clinic and more than that in players. The kids responded to the rugby coaching, and the talks on going to college and setting goals.

Seven kids from the camp will get scholarships to go study and play in New Zealand, and all got exposure to college rugby coaches, notably BYU, which had most of its coaching staff in attendance.

“This is a great avenue for kids,” said Via Notoa, who was on the USA Selects squad for the ARC. “It will further their abilities and help them get into schools. Rugby is different avenue for the kids, and [this is] getting the connections started. It’s the best thing to ever happen for Hawaii rugby.”

Also there was USA 7s player Leonard Peters, known throughout the Islands for his rugby and football success. The kids gravitated to Peters, who shook seemingly hundreds of hands and said repeatedly how pleased he was to see something done for  the kids of Hawaii.

“He has a true love for the game, but more so for the kids,” said one observer.

Meanwhile Seamus Fitzgerald, who has been prominent in coaching circles in Hawaii, was thrilled.

“The coaches we have here are the highest level of coaches you can have,” he enthused.

“They did a great job,” added Dan Hubert of United Rugby Club in Utah. “The coaching clinics were terrific. It was unreal. They taught the fundamentals, but so well.”

Always enthusiastic about scouting talent in Hawaii, O’Sullivan was pleased with the entire effort.

“This will be the first of many,” said the Eagles coach.

David Ma'afu Wendt, Shelly Nuner, Kevin Perry and Seamus Fitzgerald were all instrumental in getting this clinic and camp put together.
Also instrumental in making the event what it was:  Asai Gilman, Education-1st, Hawaii Inc., Department of State, Cultural and Bureau Affairs Office, and National Guard Hawaii.