Women’s rugby league trials a first in Samoa

The first ever women’s open rugby league trials in Samoa were held yesterday as part of the Vailima Fantastic 4 series.

Rugby League Samoa put out the call for any local interest in trying out for a spot in the rugby league 9s team for the Pacific Games in July.

Australian National Rugby League Samoa game development manager Gabrielle Apelu was one of the trialists, and she said her organisation were quite happy to help provide more opportunities for local girls.

“This is the first ever women’s open, so I’m pretty stoked about that.”

“Exciting times for women’s league.”

Apelu played for the Barbarians, a team made up of anyone who put up their hands and wanted to play.

They defeated a team from Punaoa Polytechnic by 36-0.

“They also put their hands up as well.”

Apelu said some of the Punaoa players originally played in schoolgirl competitions, so it was good to see them transitioning to a higher club level.

She said this was that next step to getting more local talent.

“I know for the past three or so years [Rugby League Samoa has] felt strongly that we should have our local girls represent in the national side.”

A former Manusina captain and current national representative for touch rugby, Apelu said she’d love to make the Pacific Games squad for the rugby league 9s.

“I’d be really keen, women don’t get many opportunities and when they are there you’ve gotta grab it with both hands.”

Current Manusina captain and Kiwi Fern Sui Pauaraisa is in Samoa with her Christchurch team for next weekend’s Marist International Sevens Tournament, and she played for the Barbarians yesterday after hearing about the Pacific Games 9s trials.

“I put my hand up, and so did some of the girls because we all play league at home.”

She said it was really cool to be part of the first ever open women’s trials in Samoa.

“Special, history made.”

She wanted to acknowledge Apelu’s work for women’s rugby league in Samoa.

“I know NRL is not that big here for women, so she’s doing an amazing job growing the game.”

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