Women eye Super competition as excitement for clash grows

The Tonga Women's Rugby team playing in Auckland this weekend hopes such matches will become a permanent fixture to help develop the game.

Tonga A meets Manusina Samoa in Auckland in the curtain raiser before Moana Pasifika's home game against the Melbourne Rebels in the culture-themed round 10 of the Super Rugby Pacific competition at Mt Smart Stadium.

The invitational game will used by both sides for selection of their final teams to play in the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship planned for May.

Tonga A women's team manager Ilaisaane Manukalo Vaihu said Saturday's clash should become a permanent fixture between the two sides.

"I think the only way to test the players is if they have the opportunity like this game on Saturday. Having more games at the international level will expose the girls to new environments, and they will learn from the other teams," she said.

"I wish this kind of match-up was compulsory so that annually it involves other Pacific island teams."

With the Fijian Drua already playing in the Super Rugby competition, Vaihu said having a Pasifika team of Tonga, Samoa and Cook Islands players would be great for the sport.

But she warned that local competitions must be set up and be sustainable to ensure continuity for the code at home.

"I believe there should be an equal opportunity in providing the pathway for both boys and girls. Having a Pasifika women's team is something that our locals can look up to and dream of. That will motivate them to keep on working hard," she said.

"It will also help the development of women's rugby in the Pacific islands like Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and so forth.

"But in terms of sustainability of women's rugby, I think there's the need for good investment. Without proper investment it might not be sustainable in the long run. We need to build the programmes in the islands, have regular competition, get the player base.

"And funding is not easy. We have to get these right first before we can get into the Super Rugby competition."

Vaihu said the Tongan team has prepared well and looks forward to the clash, which she believed would a physical match.