As part of the Aitu Rugby Project 2017, the Polynesian Rugby Union organized the Espoirs tournament in New Zealand from 6 to 13 November 2023. It was a week rich in educational and cultural exchange for the young Polynesian players.
The week began with a meeting with the leaders and manager of the Hamilton Marist Rugby Club, a century-old club established in 1922. The first group training sessions were followed by a performance analysis video session.
Young rugby players aged between 17 and 21 had the opportunity to train with the club’s under-19 team, and also take part in an adapted CrossFit session for Sevens, focusing on movement and explosiveness. The visit to the Waikato Chiefs Professional Club was an unforgettable moment, with an immersion in the club’s values and meetings with rugby figures, including Karl Hooft, former Castries Olympique and Stade Toulousain mainstay.
A visit to the Waikato Chiefs Professional Club was a highlight of the week. Our youth were able to visit the Chiefs’ residence and had the honor of presenting gifts to the Chief of Chiefs. The General Manager presented Chiefs club values and shared anecdotes about some famous Chiefs players who played for the All Blacks.
The meeting with Karl Hooft, the former mainstay of Castries Olympique and Stade Toulousain, who wore the All Blacks jersey 31 times, was an unforgettable moment for our young players.
The highlight of the week was the November 11 tournament in Hamilton, where 48 Waikato rugby sevens boys and girls teams competed.
The highlight of the week was the November 11 tournament in Hamilton, where the team finished third in class, winning the mini-final against the Waikato Barbarians (26-21).
The week concluded with a cultural immersion in the Raglan language, called Waingaroa in Māori, where young people were welcomed by the Tawabiki Aki family, and immersed in Māori traditions with song, haka, and an outing in a V12 double canoe – Tau ‘ati.
For the Polynesian Rugby Union, this cultural exchange between French Polynesia and New Zealand is of particular importance.
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