The Fiji Times

Wakai casts doubts over new venture

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HAWAII’S top politician has cast doubts over a rugby franchise being set up there for Major League Rugby with a view to also servicing a Pacific Islands entry into Super Rugby.

Former All Blacks Anthony Tuitavake, Ben Atiga, John Afoa, Jerome Kaino and Josevata Rokocoko are behind the ambitious plan to launch Kanaloa Hawaii Rugby, having gained entry to MLR for next year’s championsh­ip.But Hawaiian State Senator Glenn Wakai told Hawaiinews­ that plans to start play in 2021 were premature, and he refuted several claims the club had made in recent media interviews.

“They had mentioned in their announceme­nt four relationsh­ips: one with the Hawaii Tourism Authority who’s never heard of them; the Stadium Authority, never talked to them; the University of Hawaii which denied them their practice facilities; and for Hawaiian Airlines they said they had a sponsorshi­p agreement. Hawaiian Airlines has no sponsorshi­p agreement with these folks,” Wakai said. “They’ve got less than a year to put this together. The fact that they haven’t actually contacted the stadium authority is very concerning to me.” Kanaloa Hawaii Rugby CEO Tracy Atiga told Radio New Zealand they intended to pioneer a new approach based on Maori and Pasifika values.

“The world hasn’t seen a club or a team that’s been delivered through a village ethos,” she said. “We know that the benefits of village ethos is that our players will actually be more comfortabl­e and more willing to perform at that higher level, more comfortabl­e in that space, so what we’re excited about is actually the performanc­e level that comes out of this. “Nobody’s actually seen a team that’s been delivered with a Maori/ Pasifika lens of coaching ethos, a cultural aspect to it.”

 ?? Picture: FILE ?? Joe Rokocoko.
Picture: FILE Joe Rokocoko.

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