Tonga claim Oceania Rugby Under 20s Championship

OCEANIA RUGBY UNDER 20s TROPHY WINNERS 🇹🇴 — with Tonga Rugby Union. (Photo courtesy of Oceania Rugby)

They came, they saw and they found the hosts Samoa ‘wanting’. That was the strategy of Tonga, when overcoming hosts Samoa 20-27 to win the 2018 Oceania Rugby Under 20s Championship.

They went into the game with a win behind them 12-16  after the opening round of the Oceania Rugby Championship, on Tuesday.

Samoa fought very hard to stay in the decider, scoring three tries in the first half yet all were unconverted. However, the Baby Ikale Tahi fought from behind to get the victory, and to book their spot to the 2019 World Rugby U20 Trophy tournament, next year in Brazil.

Tonga claim Oceania Rugby Under 20s Championship

Tonga will replace Fiji as Oceania Rugby representative after the ‘Baby Flying Fijians’ won the World Rugby U20 Trophy in 2018. That automatically booked a spot back alongside the ‘big boys’ at the World Rugby U20 Championship – a huge boost for the Fijian rugby nation, and providing a perfect opportunity for another Pacifica side.

A reward for some great work done by the Tongan Rugby Union. It is great to see these youngsters – most overseas based – who decided to feature for their island sides rather than take the road to New Zealand and Australia.

Oceania Rugby has done some excellent work but more participants from other regional countries have boosted Pacifica; in terms of competition. It will be good for the game to see a Cook Islands, or Papua New Guinea side send their U20 teams to develop and learn from external competition.

All stakeholders can be pleased by the win for Tonga. It proves that a good group of boys or girls who dedicate their time from a young age, can blossom into young men and women, and to develop the skills to play on an International level.

SAMOA 20 – Tries: P.Fuiono (2), P.Ah See, P.Pati
TONGA 27 – Tries: L.Folau (2), L. Iinisi; Conversions: H. Tafolo (3); Penalty: H. Tafolo; Drop Goal: H. Tafolo

The Skippers Reactions (captains speaking to Oceania Rugby media)

Manu Samoa U20s captain Simon Peter Toleafoa said, his team had been playing on the wrong end of the field and they didn’t really focus on gaining territory during the match.  “There were errors and just little things went against us.

“We did try and work on things from the first game but I guess it was not a complete performance,” Toleafoa added.  “The Tongans were content and we didn’t apply the pressure. They were playing on the right ends,” he answered when asked about Tonga’s performance.

Winning Oceania Rugby Under 20s Championship captain Pita Halaifonua said he was very happy with their win today. “I am so proud of the boys performance and I also want to thank the Samoan team for giving us a good game,” Halaifonu said.

With the Rugby World evolving, it is good to see that island teams are represented in World Rugby events; like the U20s Trophy. Fiji will be moving a stage higher soon, thus giving the opportunity now for Tonga to follow suit, and compete against nations like Portugal, Namibia, and Hong Kong.

European sides have dominated the U2Os results lately, so it is good to see that teams from the Oceania region [like Fiji and Tonga] stepping-up to challenge them. In the next years, Fiji or even Tonga may position themselves alongside Australia and New Zealand, as household names.

With young men and women focusing on rugby union as a career path, preparing themselves through competitions like the Oceania Rugby Under 20s Championship, then players and the nations, in general, will benefit.

In their pathway, is now the U20 Trophy, and then [possible] elevation to the national side and International fixtures, like the Pacific Nations Cup. Or indeed, the Rugby World Cup or further.

Indeed, Pacifica fans and followers of Oceania Rugby will also benefit from the level of play and, that is by virtue….a real benefit to all.

 

“Main photo credit – Oceania Rugby Facebook page”

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