Pacific rugby legends acknowledged at the inaugural Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame
Updates / News, 30 Mar 24
The inaugural Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame (PRHOF) was held on Thursday evening at Eden Park in Auckland, marking a historic event for Pacific communities in New Zealand and internationally. Some of rugby's biggest names walked the grounds of the Garden of Eden once again, but this time to acknowledge seven legendary Pacific stalwarts of rugby and their tremendous contribution to the sport.

Five hundred and fifty guests filled the Grand Hall to celebrate the first ever PRHOF Inductees, including former All Black great Tuafa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams, Fijian sevens legend Waisale Serevi, former Wallaby flanker George Smith, former Black Ferns captain Seiuli Fiao'o Fa'amausili and Lakapi Samoa Sevens team coach Muliagatele Brian Lima. The late All Black legend Jonah Lomu and the late Manu Samoa icon Papali'itele Peter Fatialofa were also inducted, represented by their families.  

Chairperson of the PRHOF, La'auli Savae Sir Michael Jones, reflected on the rich history of Pacific rugby in his opening remarks.  

"Our connection with this great game goes back over one hundred years. Rugby was first played in Fiji in the 1880s by European and Fijian soldiers of the Native Constabulary. The Marist brothers then brought the game to Samoa in 1920, and rugby was introduced to Tonga by sailors and missionaries around the same time. Then, a bit like the spreading of the gospel, rugby spread like fire to the other Pacific islands."  

Seiuli Jesse Sapolu, former American Football NFL Player and USA Board Director for the PRHOF, shared the significance of the event and its connection to the Polynesian Pro Football Hall of Fame, which he helped to establish in America 12 years ago.  

"There is a special respect amongst Pacific Island athletes, whether you play gridiron or rugby. Tonight marks a historic moment as gridiron and rugby join forces for what we believe will be an incredible, impactful and global initiative. 

Our community may be small in population, but our success in these two great sports is enormous." 

Seiuli shared that part of the purpose of the Hall of Fame was to inspire the next generation of Pacific athletes.  

"The people of Pasifika, regardless of where they live, share an unbreakable bond that is cemented in faith, family, culture and sports. 

"The goal is for all of our Pacific island youth to aspire to be whatever they want to be. When we move forward with the mindset of serving our communitiies, it is no longer about you, but about us." 

Inductee Seiuli Fiao'o Fa'amausili, former Black Ferns Captain and NZ Board Member for the PRHOF, encouraged young Pacific athletes to continue their pursuit of the game, even when things become difficult.  

"You can never lose – you only win or you learn. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."  

To close the evening, four current Pacific rugby players received awards to celebrate their influence on the game internationally. All Blacks loose forward, Ardie Savea (Samoan), received the Jonah Lomu Award for most influential Pasifika male player in the world. Black Ferns winger, Ruby Tui (Samoan), received the Seuili Fiao'o Fa'amausili Award for most influential Pasifika women player in the world. The Waisale Serevi Breakthrough Player of the Year Award was given to All Black and Blues winger, Mark Tele'a (Samoan), and French Women's Rugby rep, Manae Feleu (Wallis and Futuna).  

The Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) Group congratulate all the inaugural inductees and thank you for your service to Pacific rugby and the sporting industry in New Zealand, the Pacific region and around the world.