The Burraneer Rays, one of Australia’s premier rugby 7s teams, visited Honiara on October 17 for a weeklong joint training camp with the Solomon Islands national women’s team. The tour was designed to enhance the Solomon Islands team's preparations ahead of the Oceania 7s and Pacific Games in November. A Rays squad of 16 players, coaches and staff made the trip to Honiara for the camp which included intense training sessions followed by a mini 7s tournament held at the local Town Ground.
The tournament featured two Honiara Select teams alongside the Burraneer Rays and Solomon Islands National 7s squad, with the Rays and National 7s winning through the pool rounds to face off in the Grand Final. Despite the National 7s overcoming the Rays earlier in the day and putting in a great Grand Final performance, the Rays persevered and managed to secure the victory in front of the excited crowd.
During their down time, the Rays, who fundraised in their local Sydney community to support the visit, participated in various community activities, including holding rugby clinics at Woodford International School and St. John’s School in Honiara, and distributing more than 150 items of training gear to students.
As part of the growing partnership between Solomon Islands Rugby Union Federation (SIRUF) and Rugby Australia, Australian sevens coach Chris Nay has been appointed to provide technical assistance to SIRUF. Nay will work closely with the women’s and men’s national teams and coaches at the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport.
The Burraneer Rays visit to Honiara and the appointment of Chris Nay have been made possible thanks to PacificAus Sports, which funds the partnership between SIRUF and RugbyAU, and builds on Australia’s ongoing support for Solomon Islands ahead of the Pacific Games.
Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Rod Hilton commented, “Australia is a proud supporter of the 2023 Pacific Games, the first to be hosted by Solomon Islands. Through PacificAus Sports, Australia has been helping train and equip athletes across the region ahead of the Games. This joint training camp has provided not only a great platform for tournament preparation, but also an invaluable opportunity for cultural exchange between Australia and Solomon Islands”.
Rugby Australia CEO, Phil Waugh, reflected on this growing rugby partnership: “The opportunity to bring our teams together to live, train, and play some exciting rugby provided a wonderful chance for players from both sides to learn from one another and gain valuable match experience ahead of the Pacific Games”.
The 2023 training camp proved to be beneficial for the National 7s squad in their preparations for the Pacific Games, and was of huge personal and sporting value to the young Rays coming through. Hopefully it will be the first of many connections between Solomon Islands and Australian rugby players in years to come.