Moana Pasifika to host first Super Rugby game in Tonga

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Moana Pasifika will stage a Super Rugby match in Tonga for the first time in history next year in a bid to grow the sport on the island, the club said Wednesday. 

Nineteen of the team’s 38-man playing squad are of Tongan descent but they normally play in Auckland, where there is a large Pacific community. 

They will host the Highlanders on 04 May at the 10,000-capacity Teufaiva Sport Stadium in the capital Nuku’alofa. 

“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,” said Moana chief executive Pelenato Sakalia

“It shows them what’s possible and allows our players to showcase their talent in front of their families.” 

“We are extremely privileged and excited to bring the very first Super Rugby game to the Kingdom of Tonga,” Moana Pasifika Chairman La’auli Savae Sir Michael Jones added. 

“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. 

“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.”  

Playmaker William Havili and a further 10 Moana players were part of Tonga’s squad at the World Cup. 

“We look forward to continuing to demonstrate that we can host these international games,” said Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni, who is also president of the island’s rugby union. 

“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.    

Moana, who were founded in 2020, played their first home game in the Pacific in April when they lost 40-28 to the Queensland Reds in Samoa.