The Australian government’s PacificAus Sports will provide scholarships to six women players from Pacific Island nations to join Australian Super W clubs in 2023 on initial one-season contracts.
Selected from the 2022 Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine, held in September 2022, Shonte To’a and Tilila Hifo from Tonga’s Fuifuilupe will join the ACT Brumbies, whilst Samoa’s Manusina players Easter Savelio and Fa’alua loe Tugaga will join the Melbourne Rebels, and Penina Tuilaepa and Angelica Uila join the Western Force.
In addition to the six scholarships offered by PacificAus Sports the Western Force have picked up a third player from combine Saelua Lealua (Manusina) will head to Perth for a season whilst the ACT Brumbies have offered a short-term coaching placement to Filoi Eneliko, former Manusina player and current Lakapi Samoa Women’s Academy Manager.
The Australian Buildcorp Super W competition is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier Women’s Rugby competition. Building on the success of the Fijiana Drua Rugby team’s inaugural 2022 Buildcorp Super W campaign and championship title in 2022, the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports partners with RugbyAU and Oceania Rugby to support this initiative that paves invaluable opportunities the way for our Pacific family’s brightest Rugby talent.
The Hon Pat Conroy MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific said,
“Rugby Union brings people, and the Pacific, closer together. I know this firsthand having seen my daughter’s passion for rugby grow from us watching the Fijiana Drua win the Super W championship.
“There are fantastic opportunities for Pacific players to represent their countries on the world stage. I look forward to seeing our region show what they have got at the 2027 and 2029 Rugby World Cups in Australia, the Victorian 2026 Commonwealth Games and 2032 Brisbane Olympics” Conroy added.
The Australian Government will continue to support the Fijiana Drua’s participation in the Super W competition, including the staging of two home matches in Fiji in 2023. Fijiana home matches draw large crowds in Fiji where rugby is the national sport.
Oceania Rugby Women’s Director, Cathy Wong, said fans across the region are looking forward to the start of the 2023 Buildcorp Super W season to be able to watch members of the Manusina and Fuifuilipe make their mark on the prestigious competition just as the Fijiana Drua did in 2022.
“Oceania Rugby is proud to be driving this initiative through our partnership with the Australian Government and Rugby Australia supported by World Rugby. Having these six players spending time in the 2023 Super W season before returning to National duties with Samoa and Tonga will be game-changing for Women’s Rugby in the Pacific.
“These scholarships are fruits of the labour and dedication of these players who continue to break down barriers in the quest for equality in our game and without this opportunity made possible through PacificAus Sports, these players would not have access to high performance environments at this level in our region,” Wong added.
Rugby Australia, CEO, Andy Marinos said:
“PacificAus Sports funding is assisting more Pacific women to play Rugby and compete in the Buildcorp Super W competition – the Southern Hemisphere’s premier Women’s Rugby competition. It is great to see their success in Rugby is driving change on and off the field in Australia and the Pacific.”
Through PacificAus Sports, Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby are also working with Pacific Unions to develop their current and emerging talent and create greater opportunities for Pacific teams and players to participate in Australian and regional rugby competitions.