Oceania Rugby and PacificAus Sports Partnership to boost women’s rugby

Mon, Jun 26, 2023, 11:54 AM
by Oceania Rugby
  • The 2nd Oceania Women’s Rugby Combine will be delivered by Oceania Rugby and World Rugby in August 2023
  •  Twenty players from Samoa, Tonga and PNG are part of the Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine and were selected based on their performance at the 2023 Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship, Bond University, Gold Coast
  • Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports and Oceania Rugby will select nine women rugby players from the Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine for Super W 2024 Season scholarship placements

Twenty women from Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga will compete in the Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine in Fiji from August 21-26 with a chance of scoring nine scholarships to join Australian Super W clubs during the 2024 season.

This is the second year of the Women’s Combine, which is being supported by World Rugby and the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) flagship program PacificAus Sports. The twenty women were selected during the Oceania Women’s Championship held at Bond University, Gold Coast in May.

“Oceania continues to produce some of the most gifted athletes in the world. This is the second year we are hosting the Women’s Combine competition, which has proven to be a good pathway to elite rugby for our female rugby players,” Oceania Rugby’s General Manager, Frank Puletua said.

Following last year’s Women’s Combine competition, seven players and a coach were offered placements with Super W teams in Australia this year.

“This high-performance training environment, and elite level competition will accelerate player development and strengthen women’s rugby pathways, especially for island-based players. In turn, it will help drive the competitiveness of national teams like Samoa, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea,” World Rugby Women’s High Performance Manager, Nicky Ponsford said.

Samoa’s Manusina players Penina Tuilakepa, Angelica Uila and Saelua Leaula received scholarship placements and joined the Western Force Super W team this year. 

“They were a powerful addition to the squad both on and off the field. The players contributed to our program, and it was exciting to see all players make their debut for the Force,” Melbourne Rebels General Manager, Nick Stiles said.

Melbourne Rebels General Manager, Nick Stiles praised Easter Savelio and Fa’alua Ioe Tugaga who joined his club this season: “This program provides a fantastic opportunity for exposure to a high-performance training environment and the ability to play rugby against the best players in Australia. We are looking forward to seeing Easter and Lua take these learnings back to the Samoan National Team and continue the fantastic work being done through Oceania Rugby and World Rugby in driving the growth of women’s rugby through the Pacific.”

Lakapi Samoa Head of Women’s Academy, Filoi Eneliko, also benefited from the placement program and was appointed as an assistant coach for the ACT Brumbies Super W team for 2023. 

“Firstly, I’m thankful to Australia and the PacificAus Sports program, the staff and management of ACT Brumbies, Oceania Rugby and World Rugby for giving me this tremendous opportunity. I have learnt and gained a lot from this experience. I am willing to share this with our Manusina team, and our girls back home on setting higher standards when it comes to our high-performance program,” Eneliko said.

Chris Thomson, General Manager of Professional Rugby & Pathways for the ACT Brumbies praised Filoi’s stint with the Brumbies and said, “she provided a valuable contribution to the success of ACT Brumbies 2023 Super W program and is now part of the Brumbies family.  Her professionalism and eagerness to learn and develop should be applauded. As an organisation, we thank World Rugby, Oceania Rugby and Lakapi Samoa for supporting Filoi throughout this experience, and we hope that she can share her experience and learnings to enhance the performance outcomes of the Manusina in the future.”  

Tonga Women’s players, Tilila Hifo and Shonte To’a were also part of ACT Brumbies this season. 

Meanwhile, the selection process for the Women’s Combine was led by World Rugby Women’s High-Performance Manager, Nicky Ponsford with the support of Oceania Rugby International Partnership Officer, Koli Sewabu.

Below are the names of the twenty women who will attend the second Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine in Suva in August this year.

·  Luisa Pita - Tonga - LH Prop

·  Lulu Leuta - Samoa - Hooker

·  Jacqui Aiono - Samoa - TH Prop

·  Alanis Toia-Tigafua - Samoa - Lock

·  Sokopeti Akauola - Tonga - Lock

·  Nina Foasese - Samoa - Flanker

·  Marie Boyama - Papua New Guinea - Flanker

·  Seneti Kilisimasi - Tonga - No 8

·  Fa'alua Loe Tugaga - Samoa - Halfback

·  Cassie Siataga - Samoa - First 5/8

·  Fatima Rama - Papua New Guinea - Winger

·  Joanne Butler - Papua New Guinea - Centre

·  Siutiti Ma'ake - Tonga - Centre

·  Linda Fiagia - Samoa - Winger

·  Hasting Leiatua - Samoa - Fullback

·  Asipau Mafi - Tonga - Front Row

·  Ana Mamea - Samoa - Front Row

·  Easter Savelio - Samoa - Lock/Flanker

·  Joanne Lagona - Papua New Guinea - Outside Back

·  Naomi Kelly - Papua New Guinea - Outside Back