BYU Rugby Flanker Apenisa Malani: Interview of the Week

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BYU Rugby Flanker Apenisa Malani: Interview of the Week

The "Interview of the Week" series continues with this week's guest, BYU Flanker Apenisa Malani. Apenisa's solid efforts on the pitch throughout the course of the past season played a crucial role in the Cougars' first-ever National Title win and, not surprisingly, also led to national individual honors with a selection to the All-American squad.

Apenisa was also recently recognized for his consistent support, both offensively and defensively, with a BYU Rugby Forever Anchor Award. (Photo courtesy of Paul Meyers)

BYU Rugby Flanker Apenisa Malani breaks the SDSU defense in the 2009 Semis
BYU Rugby Forever:
What does it mean to you to win a National Championship for BYU? Feelings? Thoughts? Stories?

Apenisa Malani:
Winning the National Championship meant a lot to me. It meant a reward for the sacrifice made by so many individuals: players, coaching staff, fans, alumni, sponsors, family, etc. These were people that I also played for, and I really hope that the win can be a way of thanking them for their support.

BYU Rugby Forever:
What were the greatest moments/highlights of the 2008-09 season for you?

Apenisa Malani:
Winning the National Championship.

BYU Rugby Forever:
You were recently selected as a Collegiate All-American as well as a BYU Rugby Forever Anchor Award recipient. What do these accolades mean to you? Any aspirations to eventually play rugby at the next level?

Apenisa Malani:
I was very happy to be selected into the All-American squad this year. I really wanted to be a part of the [touring squad] but due to financial constraints and visa problems I was not able to. With regards to the [BYU Rugby Forever Anchor Award], I am grateful to be a recipient and also would like to share the award with the rest of the players who have worked really hard throughout the season without any recognition.

BYU Rugby Forever:
The BYU Rugby team often receives flack for having several Polynesian/Melanesian and older, married players on their roster. Being a Fijian Islander and newlywed (by the way, congratulations!), how do your culture, age, and recent marriage affect you as a collegiate rugby player? Advantages? Disadvantages?

Apenisa Malani:
Well, in some ways I see it as an advantage, but there is also the other side of the coin. Being married and from Fiji has its challenging moments too. There is more responsibility now and I really have to work more, go to school, and also try and be fit and healthy for rugby. Most of us from the islands do not have families here that could readily assist us when we need it.

BYU Rugby Forever:
In your opinion, how did the BYU Rugby team manage to pull off such a miraculous win over Cal this year? Any thoughts on the possibility of the BYU Rugby team taking the National Title again in coming years?

Apenisa Malani:
All of the preparation (training) and the experiences that we went through prior to the National Championship game prepared us well to meet the challenge. Our desire to win ultimately stood out in that game and was rewarded. Like Coach Smyth said, we would not want this win to be a one-shot thing. It is possible to win another title and, with everyone's help, we can do it again.

BYU Rugby Forever:
If you could say anything to BYU Rugby alumni and fans, what would you say?

Apenisa Malani:
I would like to sincerely thank all the supporters and fans who gave of their time, talent, resources to make our season a successful and a memorable one. They have also assisted us in fulfilling our dream to win a National Championship Title. For some of us, your support has made it possible for us to be here attending Brigham Young University. Big THANK YOU to you all.

BYU Rugby Forever:
Thank you, Apenisa, and many congratulations on the National Championship win and national honors!

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