SOL23: Samoa crowned new champions of men’s and women’s touch rugby

Samoa won gold in both tournaments, pushing PNG down to silver. Photos: Charlie Ando Bitikolo, Pacific Games News Service

Samoa dethroned Papua New Guinea (PNG) as champions in both men’s and women’s Sol2023 Pacific Games touch rugby tournaments on Wednesday, defeating PNG in both gold medal matches at DC Park.

As finalists after the two-day round-robin in the men’s event, Samoa and PNG fought it out, with Samoa snatching the title from the defending champions with only a point difference, 6-5. Fiji retained the bronze medal they won at Samoa 2019 after defeating Niue in the bronze medal match.

Fiji captain Johanson Keith Nauluvula told the Pacific Games News Service: “It was a good experience today, though things did not come our way as we aimed for gold, but we maintained our bronze medal.

“It will come around again in the next four years, so we need to be well prepared to achieve our goal.”

The women’s gold medal match was also tough, as Samoa and PNG remained all square 6-6 at full time. Samoa managed to run past the try line in the added extra time, giving them the gold medal win. Fiji again settled for bronze after defeating Cook Islands by 7 points.

Samoa’s team captain, Charlize Fleming, told the Pacific Games News Service: “We came here to play our hardest, and we lost to PNG in the round-robin, but we won today for the people of Samoa, whom we represent.”

According to PNG team captain Angelena Watego, losing the championship signals changes in the team’s composition once they go back home.

“We need to recruit more young players for the next Games,” she told the Pacific Games News Service.

“I’m disappointed as we led in the first half of the game, but I think Samoa has a lot of young players,” added the veteran touch football player, who is appearing at her fifth Pacific Games.

Next up is the touch rugby mixed competition, which kicks off on Thursday morning.

By Arnold Peter and Glen Deni, Pacific Games News Service