Samoa Rugby

Samoa, Tonga could be next as Fiji clinch NRC minor premiership

Rugby Australia high-performance boss Ben Whitaker confirmed they were in early talks with World Rugby about adding another Pacific Islands nation to the third tier competition after the Drua's success.

The Senirusi Seruvakula-coached side will host Canberra Vikings in Fiji in the first semi-final on Saturday after topping the regular season with a 33-28 win over the Western Force at the weekend.

Samoa A overpowers Tonga, 23-15 in Americas Pacific Cup

The side defeated Tonga A, 23-15, yesterday.

Winger Vaili scored a double to help the Muliagatele Brian Lima-coached team maintain their unbeaten record at the tournament, following a famous win over Argentina a few days ago.

Tonga coach has sympathy for Samoa rugby

Last week the Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi declared the Samoa Rugby Union was bankrupt and unable to pay players' wages or pay off their debts.

The SRU subsequently raised almost $US140,000 from a fundraising appeal but Tuilaepa said their financial problems remained an ongoing concern.

Tonga's Rugby Union have their own administration issues, with the board declared null in void last month.

Toutai Kefu said resources were a constant struggle in the Pacific and it tended to be the players who suffered the most.

Manu Samoa rugby fans urged to keep the faith

The 38-16 loss at Apia Park, Samoa's fourth successive test defeat, reduced them to 16th in the world rankings, their lowest position since the index was introduced in 2003.

Head coach Alama Ieremia said everyone was hurting and he accepted that all results, good or bad, ultimately came back to him.

"I'm the head coach so I take full responsibility for anything that happens in the campaign so I've got no issues with that," he said.

Tonga toasts stadium with win

The tournament, which also involves Fiji, doubles as a qualifier for the World Cup with the combined 2016 and 2017 results deciding which two teams from the region win automatic berths in Japan in 2019.

It was the first test Tonga have hosted in eight years and drew a crowd of around 10,000 at the newly-refurbished Teufaiva Stadium in the Tongan capital.

Tongan halfback Sonatane Takulua scored all of his side's points in the second half with a converted try and a penalty as they built on their 20-16 lead at the break to hold off a late charge from the Samoans.

Pakalani to debut for Tonga against Samoa

The 27-year-old will start at fullback, with David Halaifonua moved to the right wing, Nafi Tuitivake shifted to centre and captain Siale Piutau selected at second five, in place of Viliami Tahitu'a.

Super Rugby duo Siegfried Fisi'ihoi and Siua Halanukonuka also get a start in a beefed up front row, replacing Ben Tameifuna and Latu Talakai, for the opening match of the Pacific Nations Cup, which doubles as a Rugby World Cup qualifier.

Former Blues flanker Jack Ram has been named on the bench, after missing the 24-6 defeat by Wales two weeks ago through injury.

More Pacific rugby tests backed to close the gap

From 2020, there will be a big increase in matches between top and second-tier nations, including a commitment from England and France to play in the Pacific.

Southern Hemisphere teams have committed to hosting tier-two teams in the new July test window, while Six Nations sides have guaranteed to host a minimum of six matches against second-tier teams in November.

Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu said more test matches against tier one nations can only be good for Pacific Island countries.

Fiji Warriors look to seal title defence

The hosts have maximum points after beating Tonga A and Junior Japan, and face Samoa A in today's final round-robin clash in Suva.

Tonga and Japan square off in the early match, with both teams needing to win big to draw level with Fiji on ten points.

They also need Samoa A to knock off the defending champions and deny them a bonus point.

Warriors coach Senirusi Seruvakula said they would not be letting up.

"We want to finish the competition on a high note and we're taking this game against Samoa very seriously."

More tests, money needed to boost Pacific league teams

The Mate Ma'a will take on Fiji in May's Pacific Test, which has been boosted by the inclusion of England and the Cook Islands.

Woolf was excited by the growth of the international weekend.

"It's great to see that it's expanding and really good to see the Cook Islands involved - they've certainly deserved that for a while I think," he said.

"They were really competitive at the last World Cup and they were really hard for us to beat not that long ago in a World Cup qualifier as well.

Fiji, Samoa A teams to contest Americas Pacific Challenge

The World Rugby funded tournament replaces the former Pacific Rugby Challenge and aims to boost the high-performance pathway for tier-two nations.

Samoa A have been drawn in Pool A, alongside the Argentina XV and USA Selects, with Fiji Warriors, Canada A and Uruguay A in Pool B.

Teams will play each side in their opposite pool once, with the placing determined on total points after the three rounds.

World Rugby Vice-Chairm Agustín Pichot said the tournament is part of the governing body's strategy to boost tier-two teams in a World Cup cycle.