It was an action packed 2 days at the Digicel Kingdom 7’s tournament in Nuku’alofa on the 6th and 7th October. With a record number of Women competing in the tournament. Over 20 teams were involved across the Open Men’s, Open Women’s, Under 19’s Men’s and Under 19’s Women’s competitions there was new and old talent on display for all to see.
The revised finals format was well received by all teams with tournament favourites Marist, Vaini Doves and Havelu making it through to the Men’s quart finals being joined by Nuku’alofa Barbarians, Negelia, Kolomotu’a Two, Fasi Vikings and Toloa Old Boys.
The Under 19’s Women’s competition the first of its kind in Tonga, saw QSC, Hihifo, Masilamea and Girls Empower through to the finals.
Hihifo took home the price money in the Open Women’s tournament defeating Havelu in the final match to make it 3 wins against Havelu for the tournament.
The Digicel Kingdom 7’s was made possible by the support of Digicel and for the first time, the Talitha Project and Tonga Women’s Rugby Association partnered for the Tournament to promote gender equality and women’s equal participation, with UN Women’s support.
National selectors were on hand during the tournament ahead of naming the Tonga Men’s and Women’s 7’s teams competing at the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championships being held next month in Suva.
The addition of experienced international female referee Avi’i Fa’apulenga (from Samoa Rugby Union) as a guest referee was a welcomed inclusion to the tournament giving potential national representatives a taste of international level officiating.
“We wanted to bring Avi’i in so that we could have a neutral referee to control matches and also help with the development of local referees, her control of matches during the tournament showed her worth as an Oceania referee” said tournament director Hoko Tuivai. Avi’i controlled both the Men’s Cup and Men’s Plate finals.
Avi’i arrived in Tonga prior to the tournament starting and shared her experience and knowledge of the game with local referees and players.
In the end rugby was the winner with tournament organisers happy that the inaugural event had gone well with Digicel confirming they will support the event again in 2018.
Tournament committee president Vanessa Heleta (also of the Talitha Project) thanked all the teams for their efforts over the two days and all the stakeholders who backed the tournament.
Tonga Women’s Rugby Association Patron Hon. Fane Tupouvavau Tu’ivakano was a guest at the closing ceremonies and congratulated the teams and thanked the committee for putting the tournament together, noting “that women’s rugby was a major thing now and the push to have that developed locally (in Tonga) was appreciated.”
For more information about the tournament click here