Neomai Vunga (Tonga) and Fa’alua Tugaga (Samoa) who were offered scholarships off the back of their performance in the 2023 Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine, will represent the Safeguard Global ACT Brumbies in the 2024 Super W season.
The initiative is part of a joint partnership between Oceania Rugby and the Australian goverment's PacificAus Sports program. With a focus on driving high-performance opportunities across the pacific region, the initiative provides six scholarships for female players to take part in Super W.
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 Buildcorp Super W championship titles of 2022 and 2023, the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports continues to support this initiative through its partnership with Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby. The initiative continues to pave the way and provide invaluable opportunities for female athletes from the Pacific.
The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP said, “We are thrilled these talented players will have the opportunity to join Australian Super W clubs for the 2024 season and inspire women and girls across the Pacific to pursue their dreams.
“The Albanese Government is proud to be increasing the pathways for aspiring female athletes in the Pacific in the region. There’s so much potential for our shared love of sport to bring people across the Pacific closer together,” said the Hon Conroy.
Oceania Rugby acknowledges the Australian government’s commitment to sports diplomacy in the Pacific, promoting unity and collaboration through the platform of sport. Fostering partnerships in the region enhances cultural exchange, builds bridges, and nurtures lasting friendships.
Oceania Rugby President, Richard Sapias, said, “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.
Rugby Australia, CEO, Phil Waugh said, “Players of the Pacific heritage have made such wonderful contribution to Rugby Australia. Including our national teams. It will be great to welcome a further six players from the region to our Super W clubs in 2024. Rugby Australia will continue to partner with Oceania Rugby and the Australian government to create development opportunities and pathways to elite rugby for Pacific athletes, and we acknowledge the positive outcomes PacificAus Sports continues to deliver for rugby in our region”.
The rise of women’s rugby in Tonga has been phenomenal where the number of clubs grew from eight to more than twenty within a year. Tonga has demonstrated a strong commitment to women’s’ rugby as four exceptional players earned their selection this year. Western Force-bound, Siutiti Maa’ke, said, “I am really grateful and would like to thank Oceania Rugby, Rugby Australia and PacificAus Sports for this wonderful opportunity. This is a huge achievement not only for me and my family, but also for women’s rugby in Tonga. I will do my ultimate best to make everyone proud, to pave the way with the hope to inspire the next generation of girls in my beautiful country”.
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. This has also been extended to professional development for coaches and officials. Investing in their growth fosters a legacy of expertise, leadership, and passion that transcends the field, uplifting communities and forging a brighter future for the growth of the game in the Pacific.