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Pacific Island Heritage

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Pacific Island Heritage

Postby JWSaunders » Thu, 11 Jun 2020, 00:28

I was recently tracking back the heritage of current New Zealand players back to their Pacific origins. A majority as expected were Fijian, Samoan and Tongan however a few were actually Cook Islander. My question is does anyone know any current or former players of Niuean and Tokelauan descent who have played professional rugby. All heritage counts (so past Grandfather is allowed). I’d appreciate if people could help me out with this as it’s a huge task but will be great to see the impact of these 2 tiny islands on rugby Union

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby thatrugbyguy » Thu, 11 Jun 2020, 06:56

Wikipedia is the only real source I can find. Former AB Frank Bunce was apparently a relative of someone from Niue.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niue_nati ... union_team

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby JWSaunders » Thu, 11 Jun 2020, 11:25

Yeah I found that as well as Tony Pulu and Piri Weepu also being that of Niuean descent. Hope I can find more but thanks for you help it’s much appreciated

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Sat, 13 Jun 2020, 17:35

There are like 30,000 people of Niuean descent in NZ so there are probably quite a few players with heritage from there.

Liaki Moli
Taleni Seu
Irae Simone
Scott Sio
Jordan Bunce (Frank’s son)

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby JWSaunders » Wed, 17 Jun 2020, 15:22

Thanks a lot! Those are some super rugby caliber players so it will be interested to see if Niue can assemble a Competitive team in the future. Any chance with regards to Tokelau, I know Hurricanes prop Alex Fidow is linked but any others will be massively interesting alongside Cook Islanders

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Wed, 17 Jun 2020, 17:56

I feel this is where a Pacific Islanders team is appropriate. Fiji are seemingly not interested in the Pacific Islanders concept, but these smaller nations will never have a professional level XV individually, but combined they could.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Wed, 17 Jun 2020, 19:17

JWSaunders wrote:Thanks a lot! Those are some super rugby caliber players so it will be interested to see if Niue can assemble a Competitive team in the future. Any chance with regards to Tokelau, I know Hurricanes prop Alex Fidow is linked but any others will be massively interesting alongside Cook Islanders


Solomona Sakalia is another one for Tokelau.

Cook Islands could potentially field a pretty strong team. I compiled this last year so some of the clubs aren’t current.

1 AJ Campbell (Queensland Country, NRC)
2 Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago, Mitre 10 Cup)
3 Alex Woonton (Sunwolves, Super Rugby)
4 Shahn Eru (Perpignan, Pro D2)
5 Trevor Hosea (Rebels, Super Rugby)
6 Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Wellington, Mitre 10 Cup)
7 Steven Setephano (Grenoble, Pro D2)
8 Tyrone Viiga (Beziers, Pro D2)
9 Liam Daniela (Counties Manukau, Mitre 10 Cup)
10 Jack Debreczeni (Chiefs, Super Rugby)
11 Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington, Mitre 10 Cup)
12 Tepai Moeroa (Waratahs, Super Rugby)
13 Tim Bateman (Crusaders, Super Rugby)
14 Chance Peni (Brumbies, Super Rugby)
15 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Hurricanes, Super Rugby)

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Tobar » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 01:43

They may be able to field a decently strong team but let’s be honest, that doesn’t mean much for development of the sport back home.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 02:56

There are like 7x as many people with Cook Islands heritage abroad as there are living there. The current national team is mostly Australia and NZ born as you would expect. That’s the reality for small Pacific Islands where many people leave in search of opportunities.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 06:43

Populations of small Polynesian nations.

Cook Islands 17,518
Niue 1,620
Tokelau 1,319
Tuvalu 11,508
Wallis and Futuna 11,661
American Samoa 55,465

Slightly more populous Polynesian nations.

French Polynesia 277,679
Tonga 103,197
Samoa 196,129

Populations of Melanesian nations

Papua New Guinea 8,606,323
Fiji 883,483
Solomon Islands 652,857
Vanuatu 292,680
New Caledonia 279,993.

The small Polynesian nations are more suitable for rugby league and rugby sevens because they have such small populations. The Melanesian nations are much bigger so have more potential for sustainable rugby union leagues and teams. Also they are closer to Australia and South East Asia.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 15:28

I’m not sure how much sense this analysis makes. Local population doesn’t equal strength of national team, otherwise Solomons would be better than Tonga and French Polynesia would produce more pro players than much smaller Wallis & Futuna.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 15:42

4N wrote:I’m not sure how much sense this analysis makes. Local population doesn’t equal strength of national team, otherwise Solomons would be better than Tonga and French Polynesia would produce more pro players than much smaller Wallis & Futuna.


Rugby union XVs requires more players and more specialist players than rugby league and rugby sevens. Rugby union is more developed in Tonga than in Solomon Islands, but Solomon Islands has more potential to develop a strong domestic game than any of the nations with less than 50k people. Also Melanesia is closer to South East Asia. Polynesia is off in the middle of the South Pacific so travel time, costs and time zones is an issue. Of course there are other factors like strength of economy and infrastructure, and the culture and genetics of the population. But however you look at it, a nation of less than two thousand people is not going to have a strong domestic competition and national team.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 15:52

Most of the Polynesian islands have sizable diasporas in Australia and NZ which gives them closer links to those countries. Also RL is pretty big in the Solomons and unusually for the Pacific, soccer is the main sport in Vanuatu. I’d say they are both more likely to excel in 7s than 15s.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 16:29

4N wrote:Most of the Polynesian islands have sizable diasporas in Australia and NZ which gives them closer links to those countries. Also RL is pretty big in the Solomons and unusually for the Pacific, soccer is the main sport in Vanuatu. I’d say they are both more likely to excel in 7s than 15s.


All of the Pacific Islands nations are more likely to excel in sevens and / or league.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 16:52

For sevens I wouldn’t say that’s true. A lot of the Polynesian islands especially the smaller ones have a high number of tight five forwards to select from. Look at the Wallisians that have played for France (Vahaamahina, Tolofua, the Taofifenuas etc) or the Niueans listed above. Mostly props and locks. I watched Niue vs Solomons at the last FORU tournament and it was a classic strong pack vs strong backs matchup. For RL maybe but it’s for the same reason Cooks and Niue are more likely to excel in 15s than Solomons or Vanuatu - large player base in Australia and NZ.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby JWSaunders » Fri, 19 Jun 2020, 22:43

Chester-Donnelly wrote:I feel this is where a Pacific Islanders team is appropriate. Fiji are seemingly not interested in the Pacific Islanders concept, but these smaller nations will never have a professional level XV individually, but combined they could.


Precisely, they have some quality players with potential. With regards to nations such as the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu I thought they were more rugby league focused nations but do they have any current rugby union players that are notable?

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby JWSaunders » Fri, 19 Jun 2020, 22:45

4N wrote:
JWSaunders wrote:Thanks a lot! Those are some super rugby caliber players so it will be interested to see if Niue can assemble a Competitive team in the future. Any chance with regards to Tokelau, I know Hurricanes prop Alex Fidow is linked but any others will be massively interesting alongside Cook Islanders


Solomona Sakalia is another one for Tokelau.

Cook Islands could potentially field a pretty strong team. I compiled this last year so some of the clubs aren’t current.

1 AJ Campbell (Queensland Country, NRC)
2 Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago, Mitre 10 Cup)
3 Alex Woonton (Sunwolves, Super Rugby)
4 Shahn Eru (Perpignan, Pro D2)
5 Trevor Hosea (Rebels, Super Rugby)
6 Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Wellington, Mitre 10 Cup)
7 Steven Setephano (Grenoble, Pro D2)
8 Tyrone Viiga (Beziers, Pro D2)
9 Liam Daniela (Counties Manukau, Mitre 10 Cup)
10 Jack Debreczeni (Chiefs, Super Rugby)
11 Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington, Mitre 10 Cup)
12 Tepai Moeroa (Waratahs, Super Rugby)
13 Tim Bateman (Crusaders, Super Rugby)
14 Chance Peni (Brumbies, Super Rugby)
15 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Hurricanes, Super Rugby)



Seems like a top squad! Although I’d probs maybe include Rene Ranger starting somewhere and even Rapana maybe at full back who recently converted from Rugby League

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Sat, 20 Jun 2020, 00:24

Yeah those are just guys who have played for CI or are uncapped, at least at the time the list was made. So no Ranger, Karmichael Hunt, Joe Tomane, Pek Cowan etc.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Sat, 20 Jun 2020, 02:46

JWSaunders wrote:
Chester-Donnelly wrote:I feel this is where a Pacific Islanders team is appropriate. Fiji are seemingly not interested in the Pacific Islanders concept, but these smaller nations will never have a professional level XV individually, but combined they could.


Precisely, they have some quality players with potential. With regards to nations such as the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu I thought they were more rugby league focused nations but do they have any current rugby union players that are notable?


The rugby league national teams of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are Australians with some Melanesian heritage. They are not rugby league places.
The most popular sport in Vanuatu is soccer. Rugby is not a big sport there.
Rugby union is a popular and established sport in Solomon Islands. If World Rugby want to target developing rugby union in Papua New Guinea it might be worth them developing Solomon Islands at the same time. I am not aware of there being any notable Solomon Islands rugby players.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby JWSaunders » Sat, 20 Jun 2020, 19:08

Well Papua New Guinean have been fairly decent recently on the sevens circuit with decent performances in the Oceania legs and also qualifying for the Rugby Sevens World Cup. Maybe with the potential introduction of the rule allowing players to switch nations to a tier 2 team it currently playing for a tier 1 and vice versa with Tier 2 to 1, players will be less hesitant to represent their country of heritage with players like Will Genia maybe considering playing for PNG after his Australia career as finished now and even players previously mentioned like Rene Ranger with the Cook Islands considering his NZL career is over. But I wish Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau could field some high standard players previously mentioned on the forum, all it brings is benefits with A) Their ability to compete at a higher level may attract more attention to Rugby Union with all 3 countries performing average in League (Cooks more so than others) and B) Encourage more to strive to represent their counties both locally and foreign with local people encouraged to play for their country now wither the chance of high standard teammates and better competition but also foreign players from diaspora as realistically players like Chance Peni and Alex Fidow will never played for Australia or New Zealand therefore the opportunity to play internationally for their homeland and play at a RWC potentially will be a huge incentive for them hopefully

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Figaro » Thu, 02 Jul 2020, 11:17

The main factor seems to not be population, economics, genetics or even geography, but rather which other country they look to and have the cultural and historical links. Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are very much New Zealand oriented hence Rugby union is their sport of choice. PNG looks to Australia so it's Rugby League, American Samoa looks to the US so it's American Football for them, etc.

To my mind the countries with the most potential in Rugby Union probably are the Cook Islands, because of the NZ connection, and PNG because of the overlap with Rugby League.

After that you have to look at French Polynesia and New Caledonia. It's interesting Rugby never caught on in the French colonies like it did in the British ones.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby ZUKER » Thu, 02 Jul 2020, 13:13

Figaro wrote:After that you have to look at French Polynesia and New Caledonia. It's interesting Rugby never caught on in the French colonies like it did in the British ones.


At least you had to remember Sébastien Vahaamahina :lol: who actually was born and started to play in New Caledonia

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby RugbyLiebe » Thu, 02 Jul 2020, 13:22

JWSaunders wrote:Their ability to compete at a higher level may attract more attention to Rugby Union with all 3 countries performing average in League (Cooks more so than others) and B) Encourage more to strive to represent their counties both locally and foreign with local people encouraged to play for their country now wither the chance of high standard teammates and better competition but also foreign players from diaspora as realistically players like Chance Peni and Alex Fidow will never played for Australia or New Zealand therefore the opportunity to play internationally for their homeland and play at a RWC potentially will be a huge incentive for them hopefully


The Cookies have a population of 15-17k, Niue of 1,6k and Tokelau of 1,5k do you really think there are enough players on those islands who actually need an extra incentive if they like rugby? The suburb village I live in has a higher population than those combined.
How to grow rugby worldwide?
Look at the world ranking in July. Teams ranked 1-10 have to play one team from 11-20 (they don't play in a regular competition) away the next year. 11-20 play 21-30 away and so on. Yes, it really is that simple.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Thu, 02 Jul 2020, 14:20

The Pacific Islanders team is dead, I believe because Fiji wants to play at the highest level. But I would like to see a Polynesian Islanders representative side. There would be more opportunity for Cook Islanders, Niue Islanders etc. to make it into that team along side Samoans and Tongans.

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Re: Pacific Island Heritage

Postby 4N » Thu, 02 Jul 2020, 19:13

ZUKER wrote:
Figaro wrote:After that you have to look at French Polynesia and New Caledonia. It's interesting Rugby never caught on in the French colonies like it did in the British ones.


At least you had to remember Sébastien Vahaamahina :lol: who actually was born and started to play in New Caledonia


There are quite a few players from New Caledonia in France. Pretty much every pro player from New Caledonia has Wallisian roots. As with Cook Islanders, Niueans etc in NZ there’s a significantly larger population of Wallisian people in New Caledonia than in Wallis & Futuna.

Rugbypass did a good article on it a couple of years ago:
https://www.rugbypass.com/news/tiny-nat ... pita-earth

All of these players are from there or have parents from there:

Yann David
Aliki Fakate
Pierre-Gilles Lakafia
Raphaël Lakafia
Peato Mauvaka
Rodrigue Neti
Dimitri Pelo
Vincent Pelo
Toki Pilioko
Emerick Setiano
Laurent Simutoga
Jocelino Suta
Romain Taofifénua
Sébastien Taofifénua
Willy Taofifénua
Christopher Tolofua
Selevasio Tolofua
Mikaele Tuugahala
Sébastien Vahaamahina

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