11 Aug 2018

Sport: Women's rugby league makes Vanuatu debut

8:30 am on 11 August 2018

The Port Vila Powerhouse and Mele Eels will make history this afternoon when they meet in the first ever women's rugby league match to be played in Vanuatu.

So'o Motuliki grew up in New Zealand playing rugby union but will make her 13-a-side debut in the Port Vila front-row.

The Port Vila Powerhouse women's rugby league team.

The Port Vila Powerhouse women's rugby league team. Photo: Supplied/Vanuatu Rugby League

She said the match had been two years in the making, since their coach Brett Wright set about a goal to establish Vanuatu's first women's team.

"The girls came together, had the first session and decided that maybe we should have a game and start developing the sport in Vanuatu," Motuliki said

"The local girls, they're beautiful ladies, but no one really knows anything about rugby league at all so it's just a bunch of girls who've come together, they're keen for the sport, they've had a whack at it and they think that it's a great sport and want to continue."

Motuliki admitted to some nerves ahead of kick-off but said it was also exciting as they hopefully could build a better future for women's rugby league in Vanuatu.

"The two teams that are playing have never played rugby league ever before and the ladies which are in both teams are very new to the sport, because Vanuatu is a very soccer-orientated country, and there's some presence of rugby but it's rugby union and league is just coming out now," she said.

"Never before has there been a women's team or a women's rugby league game in Vanuatu."

The Mele Eels women's rugby league team.

The Mele Eels women's rugby league team. Photo: Supplied/Vanuatu Rugby League

The historic clash at Mele field in Port Vila is part of a big day of rugby league action, including a juniors match and the final trial for the Vanuatu men's team which is to compete at the Emerging Nations World Championship.

Vanuatu men's coach Lionel Harbin will be refereeing the women's match and said it was an exciting weekend for the sport.

"The Saturday will highlight how far the VRL has come with juniors, women's and men's all on the same day and reinforces our investment into our domestic competition," he said.

"I'm also very much looking forward to launching our Holiday community programs and also upskill our coaches through our first ever training course."