On Saturday, 4 May 2024, Moana Pasifika will make history when it takes the field to face the Highlanders in its first-ever Super Rugby Pacific game played in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Tonga Rugby Union are thrilled to host the contest which will be held at Teufaiva Sport Stadium in the Kingdom’s capital, Nuku’alofa, recognising the significance this first ever event will have for rugby in Tonga and what it means for the local community.
“I am very happy as I am sure all Tongans are, to have Moana Pasifika right here in the Kingdom. We look forward to continuing to demonstrate that we can host these international games,” Tonga Prime Minister RT Hon Hu’akavameiliku and President of Tonga Rugby Union says.
Moana Pasifika are confident this match will be a timely boost for the growth and further development of rugby in Tonga and across the Pacific.
“We are extremely privileged and excited to bring the very first Super Rugby game to the Kingdom of Tonga. Our Tongan people are some of the most passionate and loyal supporters. They deserve this fixture being played on home soil and to have the opportunity to watch their Moana Pasifika rugby heroes representing them live at their beloved Teufaiva Stadium,” Moana Pasifika Chairman La’auli Savae Sir Michael Jones says.
“For us this game is about opportunity and hope. We want to build on the excellent momentum the ‘Ikale Tahi made of late, particularly at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.”
It will be a proud moment when Moana Pasifika take on the Highlanders in Nuku’alofa, with 19 of the 38-man playing squad of Tongan descent. This includes 110-test Australian international Sekope Kepu, who hails from the villages of Leimatu’a (Vava’u), Niuafo’ou and ‘Eua.
“It has been a long overdue event in the hearts and minds of locals to host Super Rugby Pacific, because of the prominence of Tongan players in Super Rugby and in Moana Pasifika,” Tonga Rugby Union Managing Director Aisea Aholelei says.
Other Tongan players on Moana Pasifika include talented outside back Fine Inisi, and younger brother formidable loose forward Lotu Inisi who are foundation players.
Additionally, playmaker William Havili is another Tongan international who has been an integral part of Moana Pasifika over the last two seasons. He earned a spot as the ‘Ikale Tahi’s first-five eighth in France.
A further 10 Moana Pasifika players were part of Tonga’s World Cup team this year.
“It’s always been part of our mission to take games to the Pacific, to invest in these communities and give our fans in the Islands the chance to watch the team in their own backyard. It shows them what’s possible and allows our players to showcase their talent in front of their families,” Moana Pasifika CEO Pelenato Sakalia says.
Tickets will be released for sale in the new year.
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