Aloha Rugby League in Hawaii
Rugby League history was created at Kapiolani Park Waikiki on Saturday June 25th when the first official league game graced the beautiful shores of Hawaii.
Rob Irwin from the AMNRL travelled to Kapiolani Pk. for the opener as the referee and to conduct referee training clinics and reported back that it was huge success.
The game that took place was between Marist and Islanders. What a game! Both teams threw everything at each other for the full eighty minutes of high-class ball passing movements and big hitting defense. Marist came out the eventual winners 38-34 in a very entertaining, hard fought game.
The half-time score was 22-6 to Marist and it looked like they would run away with the game in the second half with a strong Pacific breeze blowing them down the field. But to Islander’s credit they came back and scored some incredible tries into the strong wind. With three minutes left on the clock Islanders had fought back to take an unthinkable 34-32 lead. Then in the final thirty seconds, player of the game Uale Rae from Marist charged onto a well timed pass at the half-way line and made a huge bust down field to score the match winning try near the posts to wrap up a memorable victory for Marist.
There were many stand-out players on both teams with special mentions for Josh Rice, Jason Rego, Mangi Vaimanasuu, Kelly, McGill, Vili Tolutau and man of the match Uale Rice all putting in dominant displays for eighty minutes of entertaining football.
What also impressed me about this game was the high standard of sportsmanship. There wasn’t a single penalty for any form of misconduct given. All through the eighty minutes of big hits….they all held their composure. That was great to see!
Jack Breen, AMNRL HAWAII has done a fantastic job to get league to the point where it is about to explode and become a huge success in the island state. By Sunday evening word was spreading all over the island about the “new game”.
The AMNRL Referee Clinics also proved to be a success with five candidates completing their AMNRL Level 1 qualifications and placing the game in a good position with trained officials.
With ongoing support from David Niu and the AMNRL on the mainland and also the ARL being relatively close by, rugby league in Hawaii appears to have a great future.