(Ms Afaene Iosefa)
Vaitupu 7’s rugby team, Tofaga Rangers, declared winner of the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Rugby Tournament after winning the grand-final against Lakena Knights of Nanumea, that was held yesterday afternoon at the Tuvalu Sportsground.
The tournament was proudly sponsored by Edwin Food City Store owned by Mr. Mohammad Abdullah.
Less than five minutes into the first half of the game Waisea from Tofaga Rangers touched the ground for the first try of the match with 5 points on the board for his team with unsuccessful conversion from Lofeagai Bici.
Not long after the first try, Mr. Bici, again from Tofaga Rangers added another try and this time conversion was successful from Mr. Bici. The score was then 12 points in favour of Tofaga Rangers.
Lakena Knights tried its very best to score a try but Tofaga Rangers never gave up, its defence was very strong leaving its opponent nil in the first half.
Both teams entered the second half of the game and Tofaga Rangers scored another try from Joe Willy and converted again by Mr. Bici with 7 points.
Few minutes left into full time, Lutelu from Tofaga Rangers managed to score the last try of the match and conversion was unlucky from Mr. Bici with 5 points.
The score at full time was 24 points in favour of Tofaga Rangers and nil for Lakena Knights.
Lakena Knights did its very best but because of so many handling errors and plus the lack of fitness among the players resulted its defeat in the grand-final of the game.
Prior to the grand-final was the play-off between Tamanuku Eagles and Nauti in which the Tamanuku Eagles won by 20 points to nil.
The Sportsground was fully packed with fans and spectators cheering for their favourites teams.
The presentation of prizes to the winners commenced straight after the grand-final which were presented by Satar on behalf of the sponsor.
The 2018 Champ of the Queen’s Birthday 7’s Rugby Tournament, Tofaga Rangers, was presented with a golden trophy and a cash prize of five hundred dollars which were received by its captain, Mr. Joe Willy.
The first runner up, Lakena Knights, was presented with a silver trophy and a cash prize of three hundred dollars and were received by its captain.
The prize for the second runner up went to the Tamanuku Eagles of Nukufetau with two hundred dollar-cash prize and was received by its captain Mr. Binesh Ielemia.
The top try scorer went to Waisea of Tofaga Rangers who scored ten tries and he received a fifty-dollar prize money.
Joe Willy also from Tofaga Rangers was named man of the match and he received a small trophy and a cash prize of fifty dollars.
Representing on behalf of the Tuvalu Rugby Union, Mr. Peteli Paulo firstly conveyed a very big thank you to the sponsor ‘Edwin Food City Store’, for fully supporting the one-day tournament which ended successfully.
He also thanked every participating team who took part in the game, hoping to write up a report on this tournament and present it to all the teams in the near future.
Mr. Paulo said, “The report will be based on what they have learnt from this tournament. Another tournament will be coming up shortly after the Polynesian Leaders Group Summit, and this will be announced so that every team would be aware of.”
Before they dispersed, Melei Telavi stood up on behalf of Lakena Knights to congratulate its opponent Tofaga Blues for its victory and also wished them good luck in games ahead.
Beside that Mr. Telavi also made an appeal to the committee to make sure every team is aware of any tournaments.
“Let every team knows the tournament at one time and not just announced to one or two teams only leaving the others to know at the very last minute. Like our defeat this time, I am sure we were not fit because we had not enough time to train for this tournament, and I truly appeal to the TRU Committee to treat the teams fairly in announcements of future games.”
In return, Mr. Paulo again thanked all the participants and said the TRU committee will look into the appeal brought up by the Lakena Knights for the betterment of all rugby tournaments in the future.
The presentation ceremony ended up with three cheers from all the participating teams and those present at the scene.