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Moana Pasifika takes Super Rugby to Tonga

Featured image credit: Moana Pasifika

Super Rugby Pacific club Moana Pasifika has continued its outreach into the Pacific Islands by announcing that it will stage its first game in Tonga.

The match on May 4 against New Zealand’s Highlanders will also be the league’s first outing in the Kingdom. The game will be hosted by the Tonga Rugby Union at Teufaiva Sport Stadium in the capital, Nuku’alofa.

Nineteen of Moana’s 38-man playing squad are of Tongan descent, while the club played its first home game in the Pacific in April (pictured) when it lost 40-28 to the Queensland Reds in Samoa.

Moana Pasifika chairman, La’auli Savae Sir Michael Jones, said: “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.”  

CEO Pelenato Sakalia added: “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.”

Auckland’s Go Media Stadium has served as the home venue for Moana Pasifika since the team debuted in Super Rugby Pacific in March 2022, joining  Fijian Drua as one of two new Pacific Island teams.

A deal was signed with Auckland Limited, the region’s economic and cultural agency, back in September 2021. The contract runs from 2022 to 2028 and provides Moana Pasifika with a training ground base as well as a home stadium.