Tonga tops NZRU women’s rugby tournament
Tonga were the big winners in the first round of the inaugural women’s rugby tournament sanctioned by the NZ Rugby Union in the weekend.
Played at the Northcoat rugby club, both Tonga’s Under19 and Open women scored impressive wins. In the final match of the day, Maori accounted for Samoa in the Open division. The tournament now moves to Counties Manukau with the Under19 kicking off at 11am at the Ardmore Marist Rugby Club this Saturday.
The tournament, called the Pasifika Aotearoa Cup, was officially opened by Bernard Tepaa, a member of the Northern Region Maori and North Harbour Board with a karakia and mihi whakatau.
Run in two divisions (U19 and Open women) over four weeks, the tournament is built on the ‘Four Nations’ format. Where each nation, Maori, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga are represented by ‘country of origin’ players living in the Auckland region.
The weekend games showed the wealth of rugby talent in New Zealand’s Pacific communities and augurs well for the quality in next three weeks worth of matches.
In Round one, the Under19 division saw the emergence of elusive Tongan teenager, Ana Taumalolo playing at No.8. She was the standout player in her side’s demolition of Samoa 46 to 10. According to NZRU development officer, Ms Vania Wolfgram, “She is definitely someone to keep an eye on for the future.”
In the open division the Tongan seniors dismantled the Cook Islands 47 to 7. The star was Black Fern Mele Hufanga scoring a hat trick of tries.
The final match saw Northern Region Maori beat Auckland Samoa 21 points to 10. According to Ms Wolfgram, “The quality of the game this early in the year was outstanding.”
For the Maori side, Black Fern Trish Hina, returned to the game stamping her mark for the Northern Region Maoris, while Katie Mailata, a 16 year old prop played her first game for Samoa and scoring a try on debut.
The tournament also provided an opportunity for NZRU to acknowledge Pacific stalwarts and their contribution to women’s rugby.
- Nick Bakulick Auckland Samoa
- Kimmi Hassan Northern Region Maori
- Doris Taufateau Auckland Tonga
- Margarette Nena Counties Manukau Cook Island
They were all presented with plaques by NZR as acknowledgments for their contribution to Pasifika Aotearoa Cup.
ROUND 1: RESULTS
Auckland Tonga 46 – 10 Auckland Samoa
Northern Region Maori 21 – 10 Auckland Samoa
Counties Manukau Cook Island 7 – 47 Auckland Tonga 47
ROUND 2: FIXTURES
Date: Sat, 5 April 2014
Venue: Ardmore Marist Rugby Club, Counties Manukau
U19 Girls – 11am
Open – 1pm