Fiji Sun

Fijiana faces PNG in Oceania opener

- Oceania Rugby

Defending champion Fijiana, is expected to put on a strong defense of their Oceania Rugby Women’s Championsh­ip title at the Gold Coast, Australia from May 26 to June 4.

Last year’s finalist, Manusina (Samoa), is geared to avenge their 24-31 loss to the Fijiana side in Auckland.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again in the third round next Sunday, June 4. Oceania Rugby general manager, Frank Puletua spoke of the significan­ce of the WXV for Women’s Rugby in the region: “The opportunit­y for our regional teams to go on to compete in World Rugby’s WXV from the Oceania Championsh­ip is a game changer for women’s rugby in Oceania.

“We will see more of our teams, especially from the Pacific, exposed to more internatio­nal rugby on an annual basis which will only lift their standards and competitiv­eness.

“Oceania Rugby is grateful for the support of Gold Coast Council, Bond University and PacificAus Sports in bringing the Oceania region’s premier women’s XVs competitio­n to the Gold Coast, Queensland.”

This event holds great importance, as teams would be contending for qualificat­ion in the brand-new World Rugby WXV global women’s XVs competitio­n in Europe in October this year.

The first-place team or winner will qualify in WXV-Tier 2 while the losing finalist or the second placed team qualify for the WXV-Tier 3. Supported by an initial £6.4 million ($F16.7m) World Rugby investment, the three WXV competitio­ns will feature 16 teams and to be hosted within a new September-October global competitio­n window, except in a Rugby World Cup year.

The Oceania event also serves as a platform for Pacific players to be selected for the Oceania Women’s Combine in August this year, in which the selectors will identify potential players to join Australia’s Super W teams on a PacificAus Sports’ scholarshi­p.

The four teams taking part are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.

Draws: Round 1: Friday May 26, 5.30pm Papua New Guinea vs Fiji, 7.30pm Samoa vs Tonga; Round 2: Tuesday May 30, 5.30pm Samoa vs Papua New Guinea, 7.30pm Fiji vs Tonga; Round 3: Sunday June 4, 2pm: Papua New Guinea vs Tonga, 4pm Fiji v Samoa.

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