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Grant's A'au Sisters, A Legacy in the Making

HS Girls

Grant's A'au Sisters, A Legacy in the Making

Tiana, one of four A'au sisters who've worn Grant jerseys.

It was 2012, and Sui A’au was finally joining her older sister in high school. Naomi was a junior at Jefferson High School (Ore.), her little sister a freshman, and they decided to make their two years together special.



“We both wanted to be a part of something together before my sister graduated,” Sui remembered. “Our goal was to spend as much time together as possible. We spent two weeks thinking, and since we’re both active, we decided on sports. We asked around and heard about a community club rugby team, the Grant Generals.”

So began the A’au sisters story in rugby. Naomi had two years with Grant, and her strength as a player inspired Sui and eventually her two younger sisters, Tiara and Tiana, to match that power.

“We wanted to get on the same level [as Naomi] since we were involved in such a physical sport,” Sui said. “Our dad helped us maintain our bodies and build muscle. He had trained me and my sisters since we were in kindergarten, and trust me, when we were young, we did not enjoy it. He trained us as his soldiers, since we don’t have older brothers, and he’s been cheering for us ever since.”

“She has outstanding natural agility and speed that you can't teach or train,” Grant coach Val Burns recalled her first impression of Sui. “I first noticed Sui when she had a breakaway try at wing her freshman year at a preseason tournament. We quickly moved her to center. I knew she was special, but when I saw her run over a couple people the first time she got her hands on the ball, I knew we had an athlete.”

And the region soon knew it, too. Sui, who is also a varsity basketball player, started playing with the Red Hawks - Rugby Oregon's all-star team - at the Serevi high school 7s tournament and Las Vegas Invitational. She sampled the high performance lifestyle in Colorado, as well, while attending All American camps.

Two years later, Sui, now a junior, is transitioning into a leadership role – not only with Grant as a whole, but also with her younger twin sisters, who joined last season.

Twins Tiara and Tiana have bolstered the A’au legacy in Oregon. The pair are wrecking balls. Tiara joined first, and Burns simply remembered the force with which she hit the tackling pads.

“Tiara is a powerful forward, can play anywhere in the pack and is currently our best prop,” the coach said of the sophomore. “She is quickly learning how to help us win every scrum."

Tiana, who is now ranked in the top five of Oregon high school shotputters, joined after her volleyball season ended.

“What I noticed about her first is that she is a mix of Tiara and Sui,” Burns recalled. “She hits like Tiara but has close to the same speed and agility of Sui. Right now she mostly plays in the pack, but she might be destined for the backline.”

The three A’au sisters were on display a few weeks ago against Washington state powerhouse Kent. Both sides were missing personnel, but the game played out to a 47-36 win to the Crusaders. Kent coach Rex Norris was very complimentary of the Generals, who are rebuilding this year but have noteworthy leaders like McKenna Davis, Anna Kalamafoni, and Claire Gabris. Norris was quick to point out the twins, too.

“They continue to exert their dominance,” Burns said of the twins’ development. “They are the strongest runners I think any of us have ever coached. Sui is beginning to take more of a leadership role and she really owned it against Kent.”

Some of Sui’s leadership development involves handling her sisters as teammates.

“I have to be the one taking charge; if not, our coaches would be stressed out,” Sui said. “I also love my sisters, and I wouldn’t want them to do anything that would disrespect themselves, the team, or our family.

“Playing alongside my sisters is something I will never forget,” Sui added. “I call my teammates ‘sisters,’ but I’m more grateful that I have my blood sisters on the pitch with me.”

It’s safe to say that the competition will never forget the Aa’u sisters either, and the trio will be wreaking havoc together for at least another year before Sui graduates in 2016. Meanwhile, the twins will be upping their game with the Red Hawks over the summer, and one suspects they’ll pick up Naomi and Sui’s legacy and run with it even farther.