The Australian Government is partnering with Rugby Australia, Oceania Rugby, and World Rugby to support the establishment of the Penina Pasifika rugby team.
The Penina Pasifika team will develop pathways for Pacific players to compete in high-level Australian rugby competitions, in turn, promoting inclusion of women and girls from across the Pacific in rugby and other sports. The team is funded though the Australian Government's PacificAus Sports program.
Building on the success of the Fijiana Drua's Super W Championship titles in 2022 and 2023, Penina Pasifika will compete in Rugby Australia's Super W preseason competition and feature the best up-and-coming rugby talent from other parts of the Pacific, in particular Samoa and Tonga.
Penina Pasifika will play its inaugural match versus the Queensland Reds on 24 February in Brisbane, followed by fixtures against the ACT Brumbies and NSW Waratahs on the Gold Coast in early March.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP:
"The Australian Government is committed to supporting sport in the Pacific and further strengthening our close regional ties.
"The Pacific is bursting with talent – we are proud to be providing opportunities for Pacific female athletes to compete at the highest level and inspire the next generation of Pacific stars.
"We wish Penina Pasifika the best of luck in the preseason tournament for the premier women's rugby in the Pacific, Super W."
Quotes attributable to Nina Foaese, Penina Pasifika Player, Samoa:
"Our Pasifika women are a force to be reckoned with within the rugby world. Playing for Penina Pasifika will give us an opportunity to grow as players and allow our women to express themselves on the field.
"Playing for Penina Pasifika will also provide an important income through rugby to help aiga (family) back home.
"I know firsthand the vast talent amongst Pacific players. I am honoured to learn from Penina Pasifika coaches and to have the opportunity to appreciate each other's values and culture. I look forward to inspiring our younger sisters back home."
Quotes attributable to Aisea Aholelei, Tonga Rugby Union, CEO:
"Penina Pasifika will provide massive inspiration to our current players and our young girls as it gives them not only a pathway to the national team but also a better opportunity for a career as a professional sportsperson."
Quotes attributable to Vincent Fepuleai, Lakapi Samoa, CEO:
"Penina Pasifika provides a much-needed pathway to professionalism for female rugby players from Samoa. It will help grow on-island talent and provide players invaluable preparation and development opportunities.
"PacificAus Sports' ongoing support to Lakapi Samoa and the Oceania region is assisting with bringing sporting programs to life."
Quotes attributable to Jilly Collins, Rugby Australia, General Manager Women's Rugby:
"We are delighted to welcome the Penina Pasifika to Australia as part of the 2024 Super W preseason. These high-quality matches will provide invaluable preparation and development opportunities for all the players involved.
"Rugby Australia extends its gratitude for the generous support provided through our partnership with PacificAus Sports for making this tour possible. With Australia gearing up to host the 2029 Women's Rugby World Cup, it's great to play our part in the continued growth of the women's game in the Pacific."