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World Rugby Chairman conferred the Samoan chiefly title To’oto’oatumua

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont Samoan Chiefly Title Bestowal

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 26 OCTOBER 2022: The Chairman of World Rugby, Sir Bill Beaumont was today bestowed the Samoan chiefly title To’oto’oatumua of Lepā village.

The sombre traditional Samoan ceremony was held at the Lepā ma Lotofaga College Hall at Lepā, village in the attendance of the Chairman of Lakapi Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Lakapi Samoa President Namulauulu Sami Leota, the chiefs and orators of the village and district.

In receiving his Ava cup during the ceremony, To’oto’oatumua Bill Beaumont said he was very honoured and privileged to have received a very significant and unexpected treasure from Lepā and Samoa.

“When I found out about it, I said to myself I have to be here. I have to come and receive it myself, come to the ceremony and respect the tradition,” he said.

“Every country have their own traditions and as I said in my speech I had to come here and respect what Samoa has brought to the global game of rugby.”

The title was formally bestowed upon him by one of the paramount orators of Lepā, Auelua Samuelu Enari.

Beaumont drinks ava
Beaumont drinks ava

With Lakapi Samoa President Namulauulu Sami Leota on his side, the new Samoan chief drinks his Ava as confirmation and acceptance by both parties.

To’oto’oatumua was later presented with traditional Samoan gifts fitting his status as a Samoan chief including Siapo, Tootoo ma le Fue, Tanoa palu ava, ula fala, fans and a framed formal certificate of his chiefly matai title with the Court’s approval.

The new To’oto’oatumua holder expressed his gratitude for the honour bestowed upon him through monetary gifts of WST$12,000.

The ceremony concluded with a feast of traditional Samoan food.

To’oto’oatumua Beaumont arrived earlier this week from Fiji with his delegation as his first ever visit to Samoa and will travel from Samoa for the Women’s World Cup Rugby quarterfinals in New Zealand this weekend.

He told the local media that although he had played in Tonga during his years of playing professional rugby, one of his biggest regrets in his rugby career was that he did not have the opportunity to play on a Samoan rugby field.

“It’s a huge honour to be here, Samoa had brought an enormous set of skills and passion and the style of rugby that we want to watch,” he added.

Although Lakapi Samoa Chairman invited him to visit Samoa, To’oto’oatumua Beaumont said he had always wanted to visit Samoa.

Earlier in his visit, he met Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa and held meetings locally on the development of Samoan rugby in the future.

“We’re looking to get Samoa into regular competitions and in this trip, I’ve been to other countries like Chile and Fiji and they all got the same issues, they need more fixtures,” he said.

“And that’s something we do at World rugby, to make sure you have regular fixtures so your players are playing international rugby and not just something you have to prepare in a four years cycle like the World Cups.”

Meanwhile, he is looking forward to seeing Samoa play in the 2024 World Cup.

The eighty-year-old rugby pioneer is a former rugby union player, and was captain of the England rugby union team, earning 34 caps.

His greatest moment as captain was the unexpected 1980 Grand Slam where he played lock.

He was Chairman of the Rugby Football Union from 2012 to 2016 and has been Chairman of World Rugby since 1 July 2016.

Beaumont group
Beaumont group

And a group photo for posterity.