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Rugby Union

Tournament to commemorate 100 years of rugby in Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

TRU board member and Centenary Tournament director 'Aisea Aholelei, TRU board member Malu'afisi Falekaono, and TRU CEO Peter Harding with some of the teams rugby jerseys, Nuku'alofa. 14 September 2021.

By Eleanor Gee

The Centenary Tournament featuring eight men’s 15-a-side and eight women’s sevens rugby premier teams will be launched on Friday, 17 September at Teufaiva Stadium, to commemorate 100 years of rugby in the kingdom, Tonga Rugby Union announced today.

Four teams from Tongatapu, and one team from each of the outer islands, ‘Eua, Vava’u, Ha’apai, and the Niuas will take part in the men’s and women’s competition.

The teams are split into two pools with the four Tongatapu teams in one and the four teams from the outer islands in the other. The best of each pool will play in the finals on 9 October.

TRU Board member and tournament director, ‘Aisea Aholelei said prize money is up for grabs with around $10,000 for the men’s competition and around $5,000 for the women’s.

The tournament itself will cost $500,000 funded by World Rugby, Tongan Government, and Tonga Rugby Union.

‘Aisea said funds are going towards paying players, officials, providing accommodation for teams, food, transport, accommodation, stadium fees, uniforms, playing gear, among other things.

“And because players are being paid to play, it is sort of a semi-professional level.”

The tournament is being organized by the TRU board members, who hope to show World Rugby that the sport is developing in Tonga.

TRU CEO Peter Harding said this is a fantastic event for Tonga Rugby.

“And a tournament like this, where the best from each area is playing against each other, really helps us with our profiling of all the different players.”

Once players are profiled, Peter said they can understand where they have to improve if they want to go overseas and take professional contracts.

“That’s what I’m keen on, finding exactly where everybody is and how we can improve the level of rugby from school all the way through.”

TRU hopes the tournament will be an annual competition.

Pathway program

The tournament is part of a pathway rugby program in the kingdom and is a level above club rugby.

‘Aisea said they are trying to build a pathway from primary school to the secondary and from the clubs to the premiership tournament.

“Players who aim to be selected for Tonga’s ‘Ikale Tahi team will have to go through each level in the pathway program.”

Tournament schedule

The women's teams Loto vs Kolo will kick off the tournament at 9:00am on Friday, 17 September.

On Saturday, the Vava’u vs Ha’apai men’s teams will start at 3:30pm after the U16 rugby competition finals.

Centenary Tournament schedule held at Teufaiva Stadium:

Friday 17 September 2021

Time

Teams

9:00 – 9:20am

Loto W vs Kolo W

9:30 – 9:50am

Hihifo W vs Hahake W

10:00 – 10:20am

‘Eua W vs Niua W

10:30 – 10:50am

Vava’u W vs Ha’apai W

11:00 – 12:30pm

Hihifo vs Hahake

12:40 – 2:10pm

Loto vs Kolo

2:20 – 3:50pm

‘Eua vs Niua

Saturday 19 September 2021

Time

Teams

11:30am – 1:40pm

U16 games – 3rd to 6th place

1:50 – 3:00pm

U16 Finals

3:00 – 3:30pm

U16 Prize giving

3:30 – 5:00pm

Vava’u vs Ha’apai

Saturday 25 September 2021

Time

Teams

9:00 – 9:20am

Vava’u W vs Niua W

9:30 – 9:50am

Kolo W vs Hihifo W

10:00 – 10:20am

Hahake W vs Loto W

10:30 – 10:50am

Ha’apai W vs ‘Eua W

11:00am -12:30pm

Vava’u vs Niua

12:40 – 2:10pm

Kolo vs Hihifo

2:20 – 3:50pm

Hahake v Loto

4:00 – 5:30pm

Ha’apai vs ‘Eua

Saturday 2 October 2021

Time

Teams

9:00 – 9:20

Loto W vs Hihifo W

9:30 – 9:50

‘Eua W vs Vava’u W

10:00 – 10:20

Ha’apai W vs Niua W

10:30 – 10:50

Kolo W vs Hahake W

11:00 – 12:30

Loto vs Hihifo

12:40 – 2:10

‘Eua vs Vava’u

2:20 – 3:50

Ha’apai vs Niua

4:00 – 5:30

Kolo vs Hahake

Saturday 9 October 2021

Time

Teams

9:00am - 3:20pm 3rd to 8th place games

3:30 – 3:50

Women's Finals

4:00 – 5:30

Men's Finals