Tonga leave their legacy in Santiago

(Other) Wednesday 6 October 2010
Tonga leave their legacy in Santiago
Tonga players pose with pupils from the school after the workshop Photo: FERUCHI

Close to 400 boys attended the rugby workshop carried out on Thursday 30 September by the Tonga players at the Nocedal School in La Pintana, one of the areas of major poverty in the Chilean capital Santiago.

The Nocedal School receives students beneath the poverty line, and rugby has become one of the key sports within the educational programme. Many boys have made this sport their favourite game and it has become the link between the former students and the school, through its Old Boys team called "Old Castors".

The workshop - held a day after Tonga had beaten Chile 32-30 in the first ever international match between the two nations - was carried out with 150 boys, while the rest of the crowd watched the movements of the players and visitors.

The boys were divided into eight groups according to their ages, each group in charge of two or three players from Tonga. The groups practised different skills under the keen eyes of the Tongans. The workshop ended with a demonstration of skills by the Tongan players.

"This is our third international workshop. Thanks to the Chile Rugby Federation (Feruchi) and the IRB Legacy Programme we received Georgia in 2008. Then we were visited by a team from England and now we have Tonga with us," enthused Edmundo Gómez, P.E. teacher and rugby coach of the Nocedal School.

A dream come true

"It is an honour for us as a School and a dream for the boys. For the next training session, instead of having 40 Under 12 boys, we will surely have many more."

At the end of the session, the father of two boys that were practising rugby approached Feruchi's CEO and said "On your behalf of my sons I want to thank you for what rugby has done to my sons."

The boys were amazed to be able to watch first-hand the Tongan Sipi Tau dance, which is traditionally performed before a game.

Cameras, cell phones and pencils for autographs appeared in front of the islanders, who stopped off in Chile en route to Argentina to play in the Americas Rugby Championship, to record their visit to the school.

In order to help the school having more age grade boys practising rugby, the
Chilean Rugby Federation has offered the school a training course in rugby for the P.E. teachers, so that they can assist with the coach.