By Helen McCormick, guest contributor

KAILUA-KONA – Yesterday marked the last training session before two Hawaii rugby teams (under 17 and under 19) depart on Wednesday for the USA Rugby Pacific Coast Regional Tournament in San Francisco June 5th & 6th, 2010.

Just a few weeks ago congratulations were in order to the Kona Bulls Rugby Team as it took top honors during the Hawaii Youth Rugby State Championships in April.  Now they’re joined by MVPs from Hilo, Waimea and Oahu, assembling an all-star rugby force hungry for exceptional results in San Francisco.  Forty-nine players will be accompanied by 6 coaches.

“The upcoming Pacific Coast Regional Tournament offers local players valuable exposure to USA Eagle selectors,” said Kona Bulls administrator Helen McCormick. “Rugby participation is growing exponentially all over the country, and there are numerous college scholarships becoming available for island kids.”

Kona saw some outstanding talent when they hosted the state youth rugby championships in April.  Over 300 players took to the Old Airport rugby fields for a display that attracted hundreds of island residents.  Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman made a guest appearance and shared his support for Hawaii Youth Rugby.

“As rugby grows in Hawaii, we see a great opportunity to introduce the players to strong community values as well as rugby’s tradition of discipline, fair play and sportsmanship,” said John Nuualiitia, assistant coach of the U19 all-star team.  “New players often come to us lacking a sense of purpose and personal direction.  The intense training and the absolute need for teamwork provide an ideal environment for one-on-one mentorship and life coaching.”

The Kona Bulls, returning in their 2nd year of competition with an established and growing following, hope to bring speed and discipline to the 2010 season.  Head coaches Kafoa Halalatu, Molo Kaumatule, assisted by coaches Kevin Perry, Pita Teaupa, Lawrence Fong, and John Nuualiitia will be priming the Bulls to the forefront of Hawaii youth rugby.

The trip for the 55 participants will cost an estimated $45,000.  Players and coaching staff have organized fundraisers all over the island to assist families who could not afford to send their sons.  They’ve been able to raise most of the money needed for the trip, but trip organizers are still short about 5%.  If you’d like to contribute toward their trip, please contact Helen McCormick at 345-7754.

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