Australian Government and Rugby Australia announce $14.2 million Pacific partnership

Tue, Feb 27, 2024, 3:55 AM
Rugby Australia
by Rugby Australia

The Australian Government and Rugby Australia will partner to deliver a four-year $14.2 million investment to support high-performance Rugby Union across the Pacific through the Australian-Pacific Rugby Union Partnership (APRUP), bringing the region closer together through a shared love of rugby.

Funded through the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program, APRUP will create pathways to increase Pacific representation in elite rugby and strengthen Pacific national teams.

The funding is a timely boost ahead the 2027 men’s Rugby World Cup and 2029 women’s Rugby World Cup and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

APRUP will elevate women’s rugby by establishing new competition pathways and providing ongoing opportunities for Pacific women and girls to take their place as champions on the rugby pitch and in their communities. Key initiatives through APRUP include:

  • Building on the remarkable success of the Fijian Drua and supporting their continued participation in Super Rugby Pacific and Australia’s Super Rugby Women’s competition.
  • Establishing the PacificAus Sports Rugby Academy to provide Pacific rugby staff with access to elite Australian training and expertise - strengthening the foundation of Pacific Island national teams.
  • Establishing the Penina Pasifika to compete in Super Rugby Women’s pre-season competition.
  • Enhancing the national women’s sevens programs in Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

The partnership will also increase opportunities for Australian sporting engagement in the Pacific through ongoing Super Rugby Pacific and Super Rugby Women’s fixtures in Fiji. Pacific Unions will be supported to host other major fixtures between Pacific and Australian teams and to join regional tournaments.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP: “Australia and Pacific Islands nations are family, with an enduring history and shared values, which is underscored by a love of rugby that brings us even closer together. “The Australian Government is proud to be furthering our partnership with Rugby Australia through PacificAus Sports to give Pacific rugby teams and athletes opportunities to compete at the highest levels in Australia. Crucially, this funding will support pathways for girls and women to shine on and off the field. “In addition to enabling the success of the Fijian Drua and Penina Pasifika, this partnership has provided unique opportunities for engagement at community, national and regional levels, deepening our people-to-people links and our close regional ties.”

Quotes attributable to Phil Waugh, Rugby Australia CEO: “Rugby Australia is proud to announce our new PacificAus Sports partnership with the Australian Government. The Australian-Pacific Rugby Union Partnership will unite Australia and our Pacific family through rugby union and create new pathways for Pacific and Australian rugby players and staff to play, train, and develop together at the highest levels of our game. “We have committed to working with World Rugby, Oceania Rugby, and our Pacific Union partners to expand PacificAus Sports rugby opportunities across the region, particularly for emerging Pacific women's rugby players. “The Government's investment is a testament to the strength of rugby in our region. On behalf of Rugby Australia, I thank the Australian Government for supporting our game in Australia and the Pacific.”

Quotes attributable to Jane Wilson, Oceania Rugby Board:  “Australia is embarking on a decade at the centre stage of world sport, with rugby union playing a starring role. Australia will host the 2027 Men’s Rugby World Cup and the 2029 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Rugby sevens will also be played at the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. “A golden decade of rugby will create a significant opportunity for Australia to build on its PacificAus Sports success and invest in pathways that will deliver increased opportunities for Pacific nations to participate and benefit as world sport descends on our region.”

Quotes attributable to Shonté To’a, Penina Pasifika (Tonga):PacificAus Sports' support for Penina Pasifika will inspire girls back home to start their own rugby journey. It is an investment back into our people and our potential. We are so grateful for this opportunity.”

Quotes attributable to Ramsey Tomokino, Head Coach, Manusina (Samoa’s National Women’s Team):PacificAus Sports’ investment into the islands will back our Pasifika girls to play internationally and provide a genuine pathway that will reap massive rewards over this four-year programme. We look forward to seeing our Pasifika women and girls represent our Islands as a collective on a bigger platform.”

Quotes attributable to Nicky Ponsford, Head of Women’s High Performance, World Rugby: "It’s fantastic to see this level of funding committed through the PacificAus Sports Partnership. Increasing the global competitiveness of women’s rugby, in particular, will ultimately accelerate the visibility, reach and impact of the women’s game. “The next stage of this investment in Oceania is about providing a meaningful pathway that empowers players within a true high-performance environment to realise their potential on the international stage and ultimately close the competition gap at future Rugby World Cups. “The investment, particularly in Samoa and Tonga, builds on the success that we have already seen with the Fijiana Drua, enabling them to be successful in Super W and perform on the Rugby World Cup stage.”

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