Tonga heading to the Coral Coast

Tonga heading to the Coral Coast

Etuate Waqa has upgraded the Kingdom of Tonga’s presence at the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens. The former Fiji Sevens assistant coach, who is now Tonga’s Director of Sevens, will bring the newly-named ‘Aoniu’ to Lawaqa Park on November 15-17. The shadow national side replaces the Tonga Samurai Barbarians in the 24-strong field.

Etuate Waqa has upgraded the Kingdom of Tonga’s presence at the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens.

The former Fiji Sevens assistant coach, who is now Tonga’s Director of Sevens, will bring the newly-named ‘Aoniu’ to Lawaqa Park on November 15-17.

The shadow national side replaces the Tonga Samurai Barbarians in the 24-strong field.

“The name ‘Aoniu’ means traditional rugby warriors in Tongan and ties in with the new brand of rugby sevens in Tonga,” said the Waitovu native.  “Our team for the Coral Coast Sevens will be selected from the Tongan national sevens squad and feature some of the representatives who will be playing at the Gold Coast Sevens in October.

“We will use the Coral Coast Sevens as a build-up and training for the Wellington Sevens in early 2013 and so it is a very important event for us.”

Tonga qualified for three legs of the IRB Sevens World Series – Gold Coast, Wellington and Hong Kong – by finishing in third place at the recent Oceania Sevens and subsequently recruited Waqa to help the team reach their goal of becoming a core Series team.

Coral Coast Sevens Chairman Jay Whyte said he was thrilled with the news.

“We now welcome two national teams to the Coral Coast Sevens, Tonga and the Cook Islands, and continue to have a very strong level of interest from teams from around the Pacific,” he said.  “We are actually in a position of over-supply from overseas teams at the moment as we build the Coral Coast Sevens into a ‘Champion of Champions’.”

Whyte said the presence of national sides from the Pacific was part of that overall strategy.

“We have top club sides from Australia, New Zealand and of course Fiji, however we appreciate that securing a champion club from our Pacific neighbours is a challenge,” said Whyte.  “Having these national teams instead develops the game in our region and strengthens the field and it is an honour to have them attending our tournament.

Tonga and the Cook Islands join the top eight teams from the upcoming Great Eight qualifier plus reigning champions Wardens, Sunnybank, Otago University, Pacific Warriors, Daveta, Serevi Select, Shangri-La Lomaiviti, Outrigger Nadroga, Naviti, Hideaway Hurricanes and Sigatoka River Safari Navosa in the 3rd annual Coral Coast Sevens.

Three teams are still to be announced.

The women’s tournament welcomes Sydney University, Auckland Marist, Parramatta Two Blues and Lady Babas, the FNU team, who have all confirmed their attendance in recent days. 

They join Sunnybank, Marist Seahawks and Fijiana, the national women’s side, with one yet to be named.

“With the confirmation of eight women’s teams this year's event is simply shaping up to be the best to date and arguably the best Fijian tournament in recent times,” said Whyte.

Fiji’s Coral Coast Sevens is sponsored by Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa, Warwick Fiji, The Naviti Resort, Serevi Rugby, Air Pacific, Sigatoka River Safari, ANZ, Tappoo’s, Rosie Holidays, Maui Bay, King’s Neon Signs, Fiji TV, The Fiji Times and Communications Fiji Limited.

Tickets for Fiji’s Coral Coast Sevens will go on sale in October.