Rugby league and union enthusiasts in Honiara witnessed an exciting morning at Town Ground on Saturday as Pacific rugby 7s and rugby league 9s teams engaged in friendly matches ahead of their official competitions at Sol2023 next week. Among those teams in action were the Solomon Islands rugby 7s men’s and women’s teams, who played friendly matches against rugby 7s powerhouse Fiji.
Leading the Solomon Islands rugby 7s teams is Chris Nay, an Australian rugby union coach who has been sharing his expertise with the Solomon Islands Rugby Union Federation, dedicating himself to supporting both the Solomon Islands men’s and women’s 7s teams for Sol2023.
“In my current role, I oversee the rugby union program for both men and women, collaborating closely with local coaches to train and develop the players. The natural talent here is immense and, as a coach, there’s a lot you can do with that. I’m also loving the cultural aspect of being involved with the program,” Nay said.
“One of our biggest challenges has been securing game time due to limited visiting teams, but our recent participation in matches at the Oceania Sevens in Brisbane has significantly boosted our preparations. As we gear up for the Pacific Games, we’re feeling confident,” he added.
Nay’s engagement to advise the Solomon Islands Rugby 7s teams has been made possible through PacificAus Sports – a partnership between the country’s rugby union federation, the Australian Government, and Rugby Australia.
Rugby 7s runs from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 November at Honiara’s National Stadium, but the oval ball action at the National Stadium will begin earlier, on Monday 20 November, with Rugby League 9s, which runs until Wednesday 22 November.
Solomon Islands women will take on Cook Islands women in the first match of the Rugby League 9s tournament at 3pm on Monday 20 November.
In Rugby 7s, Solomon Islands men will open the tournament against Tahiti at 11am on Thursday 23 November.
By Aaron Ballekom, Pacific Games News Service