The stage is set for the 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge with captains of the participating teams spending the morning enjoying the sunshine along the Brisbane River for the traditional captain’s photo ahead of the tournament this weekend.
The 11 Captains gathered ahead of the much-awaited regional Oceania Sevens on 19-20 November, which will see many teams return to the field for the first time 2019 Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship. Present for the photo this morning were captains from the Men’s side of the draw included Frank Jordan Bunce (Niue), Sione Tupou (Tonga), Maluai Patala (Papua New Guinea), Totene Taratai (Kiribati), Toara Ruben (Vanuatu), Junior Taia (Cook Islands). Absent were Solomons Islands and Australia.
The captains from the women’s side of the draw included Rachelle Tari (Vanuatu), Alice Alois (Papua New Guinea), Beniamina Koiatu (Cook Islands), Saelua Leaula (Samoa), Siutiti Ma’ake (Tonga). Absent were Solomons Islands.
The 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge will be held at the Hugh Courtney Oval home to the North Brisbane Eagles and is a truncated version of the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship featuring 14 teams, see eight men’s and six women’s teams from across the Oceania Region participating.
The top two men’s and the top placed women’s teams at the 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge will qualify to the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series. The winner of the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will achieve core status on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2024.
The men’s event will feature Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Australia A. Tonga and Papua New Guinea will be hoping to return to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series after both participated this year. Kiribati will be the unknown factor in their maiden outing at an international event.
Junior Taia, Cook Islands Captain said:
“I’ve been a part of the team for a few years and am proud to be leading this group for the first time as captain and our first outing since 2019.
“It is the first tournament for most of the boys so they are pumped and proud to represent the Cook Islands. “it would be a big step up for Rugby for the Cook Islands to qualify to the Challenger Series, we are here to put our best foot forward and make that happen”, Taia added.
The women’s side of the tournament will see the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu all trying to prevent Papua New Guinea returning to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series for a second year.
Saelua Leaula, Manusina Captain said:
“Our preparation has been hard, this game is not easy but we are ready and here for this opportunity.
“We want to win this weekend and go to the Challenger Series, to join our brothers on the HSBC Circuit will open the door for younger girls in Samoa to play rugby.
Leaula, who participated in the 2022 Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine in September added,
“I took all of my experiences and learnings from the combine and used them in preparation for this tournament. I want to show my coaches that they have helped me in my preparation and prove to them I have been able to put it into practice during the games this weekend."
A total of 42 matches (24 Men’s and 18 women’s matches) will be played across 2 days of competition. The full draw can be accessed here.
Match officials controlling the matches these weekend are:
- Ella Goldsmith, Jess Ling, Rory Crombie, Will Pugsley, Charlie Marshall, Callum Robertson, Reuben Keane, and Will Pugsley (Australia)
- John Pouvi, Avii Faalupega, and Shone Semeli (Samoa)
- David Vosalevu, Lavenia Racaca, and Jiuwa Talemaivalagi (Fiji)
Broadcast of the tournament will be on Digicel (Pacific Islands) and on Cluch (All other locations).