The Solomon Islands rugby 7s women’s and men’s teams did not disappoint local fans as the competition began on Thursday, clinching victories in their opening pool matches at the National Stadium.
The women’s team showcased dominance, securing a 22-5 win against Cook Islands, while the men’s team asserted themselves with a 34-0 victory against Tahiti and a 29-0 win over Wallis and Futuna.
Jessica Sami, captain of the Solomon Islands women’s sevens team, expressed her excitement at their comfortable win over Cook Islands.
“The feeling is incredible, and I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. We expected a close match, but the results show just how much we wanted it,” she told the Pacific Games News Service.
“This win significantly boosts our confidence and proves to the girls that we can achieve this. I want to say thank you to our local supporters and my family, especially my mother who came all the way to support me today.”
Namson Bobisade, captain of the Solomon Islands men’s team, echoed similar sentiments.
“This is my debut in a major tournament, and winning in front of Solomon Islanders fills me with happiness and pride,” he said.
“I feel incredibly blessed and want to thank the almighty God for this opportunity. Tomorrow, we face a tough Papua New Guinean side, and we aim to win to top our pool.”
Looking ahead, the Solomon Islands teams are targeting a top finish in their pool matches to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.
Head Coach Chris Nay, an Australian rugby union coach who has been dedicating himself to developing the sport in Solomon Islands, pointed out areas for improvement heading into day two of the competition.
“Our goal is to finish on top of our pool games. Playing in front of our fans is important since the team doesn’t often have home matches. Despite today’s wins, we need to work on our restarts and minimise unforced errors in tackles—we’re focusing on tidying those up going into day two.”
In other prominent women’s matches, Tonga proved too strong with a 51-0 win over Nauru while defending Samoa 2019 Pacific Games gold medalists Fiji displayed dominance, winning 29-0 against Wallis and Futuna.
In some notable men’s pool matches, Samoa 2019 gold medallists Fiji secured a thumping 55-0 win over American Samoa while 2019 silver medalists Samoa faced some difficulties in their 21-14 victory over Tuvalu.
Tonga, the 2019 bronze medalists, hammered Nauru 46-0. In another pool match marked by a significant margin, Papua New Guinea proved formidable, winning 62-0 against Tahiti.
Expect more intense rugby 7s action on Friday from 11am as the tournament enters its second day of three.
By Frank Teho and Aaron Ballekom, Pacific Games News Service