Māori All Blacks v Moana Pasifika a belated nod to Heritage

Chicago tripleheader 'Rugby Weekend' involves Maori All Blacks and Black Ferns

When these two sides clash, the Māori All Blacks v Moana Pasifika fixture on December 5 is going to be both a nod to cultural heritage of indigenous rugby culture in New Zealand, as well as one more reward for rugby fans who have had a ‘less than satisfactory year’ [thanks to Covid].

The colours of Pacific nations Fiji, Samoa and Tonga will come together under the first-ever Moana Pasifika squad led by head coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga to play a historic match against the Māori All Blacks. That side will be managed by Clayton McMillan (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāi Tamawhariua/Te Rangaihouhiri) and led by the seminal ‘Mitre 10 Cup MVP’ Ash Dixon, in a match-up that is sure to entertain New Zealand and International rugby watchers.

Belated or not, seeing a team filled with Pacific Islands-born players lined up against the traditional Māori All Blacks will recognize the contribution each culture has added to the New Zealand rugby story.

Māori All Blacks v Moana Pasifika a belated nod to Heritage

Tana Umaga congratulated the players selected. “Many of the players are contracted Super Rugby players and all but one have proudly represented their provinces in Mitre 10 Cup in 2020. We have nine players who have represented one of these three Pacific nations; seven have played at Rugby World Cup or World Cup Sevens tournaments. We are really grateful to have had great support from the coaching teams of the Manu Samoa and Ikale Tahi (Tonga) as they also see this as an opportunity to build Pasifika home nations rugby talent and capability first.

The talent selected for the visitors will contrast well against the mix who have earned their call-up to the indigenous Maori squad. Among the new caps in the squad is an all-new midfield trio of Billy Proctor, and former Hamilton Boys’ High School first XV teammates Quinn Tupaea, 21, and Rameka Poihipi, and fullback Kaleb Trask.

There are also four new faces in the forwards where 20-year-old Canterbury prop Taimati Williams is joined by Crusaders and North Harbour loose forward Ethan Roots, Bay of Plenty and Blues prop Kurt Eklund, and Southland and Highlanders lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit.

Such a belated nod to both the heritage and mana of the Maori v Pasifika fixture, players from yesteryear are proud and reflective of the importance that this match holds. Moana Pasifika patron Sir Bryan Williams welcomed the first squad naming as an excellent tribute to the special relationship Pasifika nations have with rugby. “This is a special day. We are delighted to be able to celebrate bringing together a team of players who are proud of their Pasifika heritage and give them an opportunity to represent the other nations with which they identify.

“As Pasifika, we see this match as an event to honour Tangata Whenua our Tuakana-Teina relationship here in Aotearoa, celebrate our whānau and tamariki, their physical and mental health, and well-being through rugby.”

The sentiment is matched by Maori captain Ash Dixon. He said in media releases that the match against Moana Pasifika would be “a special occasion. This year has been challenging for a lot of people across our communities in New Zealand and to have the chance to represent the Māori All Blacks in the heart of Waikato-Tainui and the Kingitanga for the only time in 2020 will be a huge honour for us as players, our whānau and our iwi.

“It will be a celebration and connection of culture in Hamilton, but we know Moana Pasifika is a talented, passionate and physical opponent so expect there will be a real edge in both camps.”

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Māori All Blacks v Moana Pasifika – Saturday, December 5. FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

 

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