Rugby union in French Polynesia
|Rugby union in French Polynesia|
|Governing body||Tahiti Rugby Union|
Traditionally, matches tend to be held in the evening rather than the afternoon, due to the tropical climate. Because of this, Tahitian rugby organisers tend to put on entertainment during the day, to keep visiting rugby players etc. happy.
Rugby is greatly growing in popularity in Tahiti, but the national sport still remains soccer.
Rugby came to Tahiti via three separate streams, firstly, through the visits of British, New Zealand and Australian sailors; secondly, through the French presence (many of the main teams are still French military); and thirdly through contact with neighbouring Pacific islands, where the game is popular.
Lack of infrastructure and the dispersed nature of both the geography and population of Tahiti has hindered international success. The Tahiti national rugby union team had its first internationals in 1997, losing 92-6 to Papua New Guinea, and 40-0 to the Cook Islands. To be fair, Oceania is perhaps the toughest arena in World Rugby, having not just the mighty All Blacks, but also the likes of the Qantas Wallabies, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, all of which do well in the Rugby World Cup.
Due to Tahiti being a territory of France, rugby players born in Tahiti are actually French citizens, making them eligible to represent France. The issue has been resolved with the IRB, giving the players themselves to choose which country they wish to represent.