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April 3, 2024, 9:15 am
Sports

Pasifika rugby legends honored at Auckland’s hall of fame induction ceremony

Georgina Ledua
Digital Media Specialist | georginal@fijitv.com.fj
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Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame inductees

Last Thursday night marked a momentous occasion as the stars of Pasifika rugby, both past and present, were celebrated and honored at the Pasifika Hall of Fame induction ceremony held in Auckland.

The event saw the induction of seven legendary figures into the hall of fame, including the late Jonah Lomu (Tonga/New Zealand), the late Pita Fatialofa (Samoa), Waisale Serevi (Fiji), George Smith (Tonga/Australia), Muliagatele Brian Lima (Samoa), Seiuli Fiao’o Fa’amausili (Samoa/New Zealand), and Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Williams (Samoa/New Zealand).

Notably, all of these former players had previously been recognized in the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

Additionally, the ceremony included the presentation of prestigious awards, with All Black Ardie Savea receiving the Jonah Lomu Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame award for the most influential player in the world.

Black Ferns wing Ruby Tui was honored with the ‘Seiuli Fiao’o Fa’amausili Award’ for the most influential Pasifika woman player globally.

Among the recipients of the ‘Waisale Serevi Pasifika Breakthrough Player of the Year’ award were All Black and Auckland Blues winger Mark Telea, along with French women’s rugby representative Manae Feleu from Wallis and Futuna.

The event, held at Eden Park, drew a packed crowd, including many former Samoan and Tongan players who came to witness the induction and awards ceremony.

Sir Bryan Williams said he was humbled to be inducted into the Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame.

Speaking at the event, Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Williams expressed his gratitude, remarking on the significance of Eden Park, where he played his first game at the age of 10.

Former sevens star Waisale Serevi also shared his sentiments, expressing his honor at being part of the inductees and thanking all the players and coaches who contributed to his career.

Former Fiji sevens rugby wizard Waisale Serevi thanked players and coaches who helped him in his career

Similarly, former Wallaby flanker George Smith paid tribute to the Pacific players who paved the way for his success.

Seiuli Fiao’o Fa’amausili acknowledged her parents and family for their unwavering support throughout her career, while also recognizing the trailblazers who paved the way for Pasifika women in rugby.

Nadene Lomu, wife of the late Jonah Lomu, expressed her privilege in representing her husband at the event, emphasizing his legacy and the importance of rising above challenges.

Nadene Lomu with former All Black and Moana Pasifika head coach Tana Umaga at the event on last Thursday.

Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame chairman La’auli Sir Michael Jones highlighted the organization’s commitment to honoring Pasifika rugby players worldwide.

He emphasized the need for better recognition of Pasifika players and advocated for their inclusion in decision-making positions within rugby unions globally.