Former Fijiana Sevens stars (who were not selected by new interim-head coach Alivereti Doviverata) featured prominently in the opening round of the Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship.
The Championship, in its second edition, provides valuable international match play and is a key part of the pathway for Women’s rugby within the region.
Round One began with all qualified women’s teams assembling on Churchill Park, Lautoka, for the annual feature Pacifica Rugby women’s championship.
Fiji | Tonga | Samoa | Papua New Guinea
The host nation were instrumental in the demolition of the Tongan side, which featured overseas-based players from New Zealand and Australia. And this is just the beginning of many more matches, in the quadrangular tournament.
Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship: Round One
Fiji women’s XVs humbled the visitors from the Kingdom of Tonga, 53-8. Fijiana ran in nine tries, including two for burly number eight forward, Lavenia Tinai who had an outstanding game. Twinkle toes Tima Ravisa also crossed the line, with other sevens stars Roqica and Nagasau earning rewards on a great day in the Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship.
Fiji flyhalf Tokasa Seniyasi and Mereani Moceituba crossed the line as well, in the massive result. Tonga had the one lone try, which went unconverted, on a depressing day for the Kingdom. They must hope to bounce back quickly if they hope to challenge for the Oceania Women’s XVs title.
Ana Maria Roqica, the former Fijiana Sevens captain, was outstanding in her halfback role. With good distribution, she was quick off her feet, in a grand demonstration of the player’s XVs game abilities. Fullback Ravisa was also on song, with her jinxing runs, and Sauto in the breakdown was a feature throughout the match.
Rusila Nagasau, Fiji XVs Captain told Oceania Rugby post game, “I am really proud of the girls and how they’ve come through together.
“There were some new girls and though it’s a new gel, we are all Fijians and we can easily adapt and play together. I love creating space for the outside backs, but I also like to take every opportunity presented to me when we’re on the field (when talking about scoring a hattrick).”
The Ben Hur Kivalu coached Tongan side had a great game plan to begin with. To use their big forwards, and play the game up front. However, the adventurous Fijian side were just ‘too hot to handle’ in Round One.
Oceania Rugby Women's 15s Championship
FT | Round 1 | #FIJvTOG
— Oceania Rugby (@oceaniarugby) November 16, 2018
Manu Sina tames Papua New Guinea
Samoa Manu Sina opened the 2018 Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship in style. Overcoming Papua New Guinea 56 -45, it was a battle of strength and speed which favored the Samoans in the end.
Openside flanker and captain Sui Puarasi, led by example as she was in the thick of everything, with her support play and defense. She shut down the Papua New Guinea attack time and time again, in an MVP performance.
The huge scoreline is also a sign that both teams will need to work on a lot of areas, before Round Two fixtures next week.
The two centers for Samoa; inside center Billy-Jean Ale and her outside partner Josephine Falesita, ran havoc in the midfield with their bullocking runs. They lay the platform for most of their points.
Sui Pauaraisa Manusina captain had nothing but praise for her team, telling Oceania Rugby, “I’m so proud of the girls as it’s our first game together as a team and we’re all from different places.
“We didn’t know our opposition except that they were quick, so we opted to use our strength which was our forwards.”
Oceania Women's Rugby 15s Championship
FT | Round 1 | #PNGvSAM
— Oceania Rugby (@oceaniarugby) November 16, 2018
The Inoke Male-coached Fiji side will now meet Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, with Samoa taking on Tonga.
Friday’s two matches continued the celebration of Pacifica Rugby. As well as men’s teams traveling in the Northern hemisphere for International XVs fixtures, on the 7s field, last weekend fans enjoyed the annual Ocean Rugby Sevens tournament.
On the field, the game is well supported. Off of the field, the vital ingredient is administration – and in the Pacific especially – the backing of World Rugby. That is is competition, funding and in development.
What a week for Oceania Rugby
The entire game of rugby is enclosed within the Pacific rim. Pacific and Oceania rugby partners are the bedrock of women’s and men’s rugby. And one of the major partners is New Zealand.
With confirmation this week that New Zealand were announced as the hosts of the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, it added to the eagerness of the competing teams in Lautoka, to perform over and above their standard.
On Friday, the women’s XVs teams displayed terrific heart and determination.
But not only did Oceania Rugby have one win but two in the same week. That is, with the inclusion of Fiji and Samoa on the World Rugby Council. Having a seat at the table means more voice fighting for Oceania Rugby.
Within the Pacific, partner nations hold all Rugby Sevens titles [Olympic and Commonwealth Games, as well as the women’s HSBC World Series title]. New Zealand hold both World Cups. Which other regions of World Rugby has archived that?
The key to ongoing success across the region is to keep performing in combined tournaments and championships. Leading to higher standards, even with the limited resources (of a nation like Tonga or Papua New Guinea).
Pacifica Rugby gains advantage from stronger nations
Australian sports journalist Jill Scanlon; who covers sports across the Oceania Region had this to say. “The more Oceania voices that can be heard as a part of the top-level rugby discussions, the better.
“The task will now be to make sure it is not just the stronger unions from the Pacific that gain the advantage of this step forward and that benefits from Oceania voices on the council flow to all Pacific unions”
“The appointments underline the positive growth and development of rugby across the region – which is always a good thing especially with the growth of Women’s rugby”
The onus is on the regional unions to utilize the chance they have been given – with inclusion on the World Rugby Council – and importantly, for larger nations like New Zealand, Australia and Fiji, to help minor unions in the region grow.
That is across women’s, men’s and in the development of the game. Examples like the Oceania Women’s XVs competition, will only bring more benefits in the long term.
Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship: Round One results
Fiji 53 Tonga 8 | Samoa 56 Papua New Guinea 45
“Main photo credit – Oceania Rugby facebook page”