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Pacific Rugby League International

The Pacific Rugby League International is a rugby league test match that has been played between two Pacific Island nations during the National Rugby League's annual representative weekend since 2013. The fixture was held at Penrith Stadium for the 2013 and 2014 test matches. In 2015, two fixtures were held; Samoa and Tonga competed for the Polynesian Cup while Fiji and Papua New Guinea competed for the Melanesian Cup at Cbus Super Stadium.[1] In 2016 the fixtures returned to New South Wales and were held at Parramatta's Pirtek Stadium.

Pacific Rugby League International
SportRugby league
Number of teams5
CountryPacific (Asia-Pacific Confederation)
Winners Tonga (3rd title)
 Papua New Guinea (3rd title)
Most titles Samoa  Tonga  Papua New Guinea (3 each titles)
Broadcast partnerFox Sports
Related competitionsMelanesian Cup
Polynesian Cup
Anzac Test

In August 2015, the NRL announced a new $925 million (Australian) TV deal. As part of the deal it was announced that the Pacific test matches would continue to be televised until at least 2022 and will be played on the Sunday before game 2 of the State of Origin series. The deal begins in 2018.[2]

Match summariesEdit

Year Date Winner Score Loser Competition Venue
2010 1 June   Fiji 36 – 4   Samoa Test match Apia, Samoa
16 October   New Zealand 50 – 6   Samoa Test match Mt Smart Stadium
24 October   Samoa 22 – 6   Tonga Polynesian Cup Parramatta Stadium
2013 20 April   Tonga 36 – 4   Samoa Polynesian Cup Penrith Football Stadium
2014 3 May   Samoa 32 – 16   Fiji Test match
2015 2 May   Fiji 22 – 10   Papua New Guinea Melanesian Cup Cbus Super Stadium
  Samoa 18 – 16   Tonga Polynesian Cup
2016 7 May   Papua New Guinea 24 – 22   Fiji Melanesian Cup Pirtek Stadium
  Samoa 18 – 6   Tonga Polynesian Cup
2017 6 May   Papua New Guinea 32 – 22   Cook Islands Test match Campbelltown Stadium
  Tonga 26 – 24   Fiji Test match
2018 23 June   Papua New Guinea 26 – 14   Fiji Melanesian Cup
  Tonga 38 – 22   Samoa Polynesian Cup
2019 22 June   New Zealand 34 – 14   Tonga Oceania Cup Mount Smart Stadium
  Samoa 24 – 6   Papua New Guinea Leichhardt Oval
  Fiji 58 – 14   Lebanon Test Match
9 November   Fiji 22 – 20   Papua New Guinea Melanesian Cup Rugby League Park, Christchurch

2010 testsEdit

2013 testEdit

The 2013 Pacific Rugby League test was played between Samoa and Tonga. The fixture was created as a warm-up international for their 2013 Rugby League World Cup campaigns. Tonga won the test match 36–4. Tonga's Samisoni Langi won the man of the match award, after scoring 16 points from two tries and four conversions.

Controversy occurred late in the match as the game had to be called off before Langi had the chance to convert the final try due to fans invading the pitch.[3][4]

Both teams selected a number of débutantes, with the most experienced players only appearing between 3-8 times. The most experienced players that played in the test match were Tonga's Richard Fa'aoso and Etu Uaisele who both made 8 appearances for their country before this test match. Samoa's most experienced player was Ben Roberts who made 3 appearances before this test match. All players were contracted to NRL clubs (though some were still playing in the NYC, except for Tongan winger Etu Uaisele who played for the Wyong Roos in the New South Wales Cup.

2014 testEdit

The 2014 Pacific Rugby League test was played between Samoa and Fiji. The fixture was a qualifier for the 2014 Four Nations.[5][6][7] Samoa won the test match by 32–16 after being behind 16–12 at half-time. Samoa's Penani Manumalealii won the man of the match award, scoring 3 tries in the match.

Samoa picked 7 debutantes for the test match, while Fiji featured three. All of the Samoan team were National Rugby League based players, while the Fijian side had 10 players from the NRL. Samoa's most capped player was Daniel Vidot who made his 6th appearance for his country, while Fiji's most experienced players were Alipate Noilea, Aaron Groom, and captain Ashton Sims who all made their 10th appearance for their nation.

AftermathEdit

After the test match, Petero Civoniceva said that "Test matches between emerging nations is a necessity for the game to grow outside of Australia, New Zealand and England".[8]

Due to the win, Samoa had qualified for the 2014 Four Nations.[9] Samoa lost all three matches, losing to England 26–32 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on the tournament's opening day double header, New Zealand 12–14 at Toll Stadium in Whangarei, and then finally to Australia 18–44 at Win Stadium in Wollongong.

2015 testsEdit

On 24 December 2014 it was announced that Papua New Guinea would play Fiji and Samoa would play Tonga as part of a 2015 Pacific test double header. The 2015 Melanesian Cup was played between Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Fiji beat Papua New Guinea to win the inaugural Melanesian Cup title.[10] Fiji never looked like losing the match after an easy first half performance, leading 18–0 at the break. They went on to win the test match by 22–10. Fiji's Marika Koroibete won the man of the match award, scoring 2 tries in the match. Papua New Guinea's defeat means that they still haven't won a test-match on away soil since the 2000 Rugby League World Cup.

Fiji picked 6 débutantes for the test match, while PNG also featured six players making their first ever International appearance for their country. Both teams had a fair share of NRL, Queensland or New South Wales Cup, as well as domestic club players. Papua New Guinea's most capped players were Nene MacDonald, Ray Thompson, and Tyson Martin who all made their 4th appearance for their country, while Fiji's most experienced player was their captain Jason Bukuya who made his 10th appearance for his country.

PNG Hunters' Israel Eliab captained Papua New Guinea, and Cronulla's Jason Bukuya led Fiji.

AftermathEdit

On October 17, Tonga had a one-off battle with the Cook Islands in the Asia-Pacific qualifying playoff for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. The Tongans only led by 4 at the break before running away in the second half scoring 3 tries in the last 20 minutes of the game.

Before the game Tongan coach, Kristian Woolf, mentioned how players being eligible for second-tier nations such as Tonga and Samoa are being unfairly punished if they pursue an opportunity with an Australian or New Zealand Test or Origin squad. He made this recent complaint after Tongan internationals Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Tuimoala Lolohea went off to play for the Kiwis in their end-of-year test series against England. This now means that Tonga can't pick these two players until a 2-year period has passed. Woolf said "Some flexibility in those rules would certainly help in terms of helping your tier two nations becoming more competitive with your first-tier nations."[11]

2016 testsEdit

Another Pacific Island nation that does not compete in these matches, Cook Islands, organised a test match with Lebanon at Belmore Sports Ground on May 8.[12]

The 2016 Melanesian Cup was played between Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Papua New Guinea created history to win their first Melanesian Cup title.[13] The test looked in a similar situation to last year when Fiji took a comfortable lead into the break but this time around Papua New Guinea scored enough points in the second half to outscore their pacific rivals and win their first major title since the 2009 Pacific Cup. Captain David Mead shone for the Kumuls as he made try-saving tackles, assists and even line breaks in a man-of-the-match performance which was a crucial influence to earning his country's first win on away soil since the year 2000. Fiji picked 7 débutantes for the test match, while PNG featured five players making their first ever International appearance for their country. Both teams had a fair share of NRL, Queensland or New South Wales Cup, as well as domestic club players. Papua New Guinea's most capped player was Rod Griffin who made his 10th appearance for his country, while Fiji's most experienced player was Akuila Uate who made his 12th appearance for his country. Gold Coast's David Mead captained Papua New Guinea, and Port Kembla Blacks' James Storer led Fiji.

The 2016 Polynesian Cup was played between Samoa and Tonga. Samoa defeated Tonga to win their second consecutive Polynesian Cup title.[14] The strong crowd would always show their passion and loud screaming support throughout the game after big hits, strong runs and intense moments were key talking points.[citation needed] However a total of 29 errors and a completion rate of just over 50% from both countries was a headache for everyone to watch.[citation needed] Despite Tonga having 55% possession and more territory, they didn't score and the Samoans made them pay by taking their few second-half opportunities that were given to them resulting in another Samoan victory over their old 'War rivals'. Samoa picked 7 débutantes for the test match, while Tonga featured three. Both teams' players varied from National Rugby League players to Queensland or New South Wales Cup to Holden Cup and to the Super League. Samoa's most capped player was Leeson Ah Mau who made his 10th appearance for his country, while Tonga's most experienced player was Feleti Mateo who made his 13th appearance for his country. English Super League club Hull F.C. gave permission for two players to leave England and play in the Polynesian Cup test; coincidentally they were captain of both nations. Frank Pritchard captained Samoa, and Sika Manu led Tonga.[15]

AftermathEdit

A couple of hours before the Pacific test-matches began, discussions were made and confirmed between the RLIF Deputy Chairman, John Grant, alongside Rugby League Samoa Chairman/Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation Chairman, Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a, and the Fiji Rugby League Chairman, Filimoni Vosarogo, that Samoa's city of Apia will host a test-match between Samoa and Fiji on October 8, 2016. This test-match will mark 30 years of Rugby league in Samoa.[16][17]

2017 testsEdit

2018 testsEdit

2019 testsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Kumar, Rashneel. "WC platform". Fiji Times Limited. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  2. ^ "New NRL TV deal locks in Pacific Tests". Love Rugby League. 2015-08-10. Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  3. ^ "Tonga smashes Samoa in a chaotic league Test shutout at Penrith's Centrebet Stadium". foxsports.com.au. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  4. ^ Warren, Adrian (20 April 2013). "Tonga smash Samoa 36-4". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Rugby League Planet". Rugby League Planet. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Four Nations Rugby League: Fiji to play Samoa for a place in tournament". Smh.com.au. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Samoa beat Fiji to advance to Four Nations". Nrl.com. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  8. ^ "We need more Tests: Civoniceva". nrl.com. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Four Nations Schedule". Triple M. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Koroibete delights in Fiji win over PNG". Nrl.com. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Pacific rising: Call to loosen eligibility". nrl.com. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Belmore to host Cook Islands v Lebanon clash". asiapacificrl.com. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  13. ^ "PNG stuns Fiji in a thriller". nrl.com. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Samoa holds on in pulsating Pacific Test". nrl.com. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Hull FC: Frank Pritchard and Sika Manu to return to Australia and miss Challenge Cup game". Hull Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 1 May 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Samoa to host Fiji in historic Test". nrl.com. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  17. ^ "ARLC chairman John Grant expects NRL clubs to support historic Test in Samoa". smh.com.au. Retrieved 7 May 2016.