Pacific Island women rugby players combine for professional training

Women rugby players from Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Samoa are taking part in the world’s first women’s rugby combine program held this week in Gold Coast, Australia.

The 2022 Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine is aimed to accelerate rugby development for women in the Pacific and pave the way for the region’s brightest rugby talent to join the 2023 Australian Buildcorp Super W competition.

The 20 players were selected following the 2022 Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship held 9-17 July in Auckland, New Zealand.

A key focus of this high-performance education is to empower the players to share their learnings with their respective teams, by providing the group with tools to take back into their club and national team environment.

In addition to on game play support for the playing group is being provided by World Rugby and Rugby Australia who are leading sessions introducing the group to life in a high-performance setting covering nutrition, player welfare and mindset, rugby laws and performance analysis.

After arriving into the Gold Coast over the weekend, the playing group have been mentored by a world class coaching group led by Head Coach Daryl Gibson (Fiji), Toutai Kefu (Tonga), Seilala Mapusua and Filoi Eneliko (Samoa), Paul Downes ( Moana Pasifika) and Mere Moto (Fiji).

Daryl Gibson said they were really happy that the playing group had come together extremely well, coming from different nations and diverse club environments.

We are working with the group and breaking down coachable components of the game. In addition to introducing the group to a professional team environment, our objective is to educate the players on how they can influence their own team environment with this knowledge.

Janina Nightingale, PNG Cassowaries player and first time combine participant said this week was empowering for Pacific women’s rugby and an opportunity that will have an impact on Pacific women’s rugby.

“As a group we are grateful for the Australian Government, Rugby Australia, World Rugby and Oceania Rugby for shining a light into the immense talent pool that we know exists in our Unions but have limited opportunity to show the world.

“The support from both the coaches and girls has been amazing this week, it is one of the best rugby environments I’ve ever been in. Learning and training together to build a better understanding of what we are capable of.”

Tom Sorsby, High Performance Analyst with World Rugby said this week’s program will introduce the players into a professional environment where analysis would regularly be used on both a team and individual level.

“By developing the understanding of performance analysis, we want the group to leave the Combine with not only an understanding of what events happen on the field but how and why events happen on the field creating smarter rugby players,” he said.

The week long program will continue until Saturday.

2022 Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine participants:

Lakapi Samoa
Saelua LEAULA
Paige MISKY
Octavia NANAIIAFETA
Easter SAVELIO
Faalua Ioe TUGAGA
Penina TUILAEPA
Fogamanono TUSIGA
Angelica UILA

Papua New Guinea Rugby Union
Janina NIGHTINGALE
Jessica REFIREKA
Vagikune WARI

Tonga Rugby Union
Sokopeti’AKAUOLA
Florence HAKALO
Tilila HIFO
Siutiti MA’AKE
Fakanonoa MANUMU’A
Luisa PITA
Shonte TO’A
Malia TOVA
Ayla COOK

The Women’s Combine is possible through Oceania Rugby’s partnership with the Australian Government’s Pacific Aus Sports program, Rugby Australia and supported by World Rugby.

At the same time, following the success of Fijiana Drua joining Australia’s premier women’s competition 2022, Australian Super W teams will be in attendance throughout the week to talk to the playing group and coaching staff with the aim of selecting players to join their squads, the addition of players from other Pacific nations in the 2023 season promises to continue to build and broaden the fan-base for women’s rugby in the region.

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