10 Jul 2023

Pacific Sports Briefs on Monday 10 July 2023

4:52 pm on 10 July 2023

Tana to build on Mauger foundations with Moana Pasifika

Tana Umaga says he aims to build on the foundation laid by the former Moana Pasifica coach.

The former All Black captain coached the Blues between 2016 to 2018, and is currently the defence coach for Manu Samoa.

He takes over a team which managed just one win this year.

Pacific Rugby Legends coach Tana Umaga.

Photo: Christine Rovoi

Umaga said he has spoken to outgoing coach Aaron Mauger about the improvements needed.

"He's given me some pointers around how the players work and I think we've just got to make sure...he's laid a foundation for us that we can build from.

We just got to make sure we do that and not make the mistakes that as you do in startups. You're always making mistakes but you just got to learn from them and grow," the rugby legend said.

Fijian rugby U20s beat Italy for ninth

Fiji produced a performance of skill and flair to nullify Italy's heavy pack in the opening ninth-place semi-final at Paarl Gymnasium and confirm their place in next year's U20 Championship.

Having struggled in set-piece play in their three matches in Pool B, Fiji took the opportunity to show what they could do with a reasonable supply of possession by running in five tries.

It was a contrast of styles as Italy used their dominant scrum as the platform to score their four tries but their lineout malfunctioned, they turned over too much possession in attack and also conceded penalties that allowed Fiji to relieve the pressure.

Italy were 15 points down 10 minutes into the second half but rallied to reduce the deficit to a point with two tries in three minutes.

But missed tackles proved costly which allowed Fiji's influential fly-half Isaiah Ravula to send blindside flanker Sakenasa Nalasi over then for centre Paterisio Fiunau to slice through a static defence on a strike run from a lineout.

Ravula kicked 16 points off the tee but his astute tactical kicking also proved decisive in a frenetic contest on a heavy pitch.

Final score 41-26

Flying Fijians promised bonuses at Cup

The Flying Fijians have been promised bonus payments according to their performance at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, a former Flying Fijians himself, told the squad members and management on Taveuni on Thursday that the bonus payment will be paid to the players at the end of their World Cup campaign.

FBC Sports reported Rabuka confirmed the funds will not come from government but from "a friend of Fiji".

Rabuka, who was attending the funeral of former Fijian government minister the late Ratu Talemo Ratakele, visisted the squad at their Welagi village camp.

He told the players to forget about the financial challenges facing the Fiji Rugby Union and focus on the Pacific Nations Cup series and the World Cup.

"There is a bonus also, it will not come from government but it is a very demanding bonus, that will come to you at the end of the tournament," FBC reported him telling the players.

"I can get it from one of the friendly nations or union to give you an award appropriate for what I anticipate to be your performance in the World Cup."

The FRU is currently in debt, with over $FJ3.5 million.

The Flying Fijians will play four tests in November/December.

The Flying Fijians will play four tests in November/December. Photo: Fiji Rugby

Members of the Fijiana women's rugby team are owed close to FJ$180,000 in allowances.

FRU Trustees Board chairman Peter Mazey had confirmed to RNZ Pacific two weeks ago the FRU does not have money to pay the Fijiana players.

He also confirmed that Fiji Water, as the Flying Fijian's major sponsor, has funds allocated for the team's World Cup preparations.

He added the team is not affected by the current financial problems at Rugby House in Suva because funding for them will go into a separate account.

New Zealand Under-19 Women win record OFC title

New Zealand defeated Fiji in Suva on Saturday to lift the Oceania Under-19 Women's Championship for an eighth time, while Samoa have finished third after beating the Cook Islands.

The Kiwis completely dominated the final, winning 7-nil.

This was an improvement on their 3-nil win over Fiji in the group stage.

Samoa secured third place with a dramatic victory over the Cook Islands at HFC Bank Stadium.

A late goal from Cook Islands' Abrihana Enoka seemed to have sent the match to penalties after Arianna Skeers had put Samoa ahead with ten minutes remaining.

A 97th-minute penalty from Skeers secured the win for Samoa and the bronze medal.

CNMI going big at Pacific tennis champs

The Northern Marianas will be sending one of the largest contingents in this year's Pacific Oceania Junior tennis Championships in Nadi, Fiji.

A total of 17 players from the country will join the North Pacific Team in the tournament.

The team will be led by Marianas Hall of Famer and former Pacific Oceania Davis Cup captain Jeff Race.

Joining Race in the coaching staff is Colin Ramsey, a former junior player and the No. 1-ranked singles player on the island.