Yesterday’s Brisbane 7’s tournament at Souths Rugby Union will go down as a historic tournament for all Queensland Tongans.
Most notably because it was the first opportunity to enter its men into the tough demanding world of 7’s rugby. It was perhaps also quite ironic that this was the tournament to start such a venture considering the Queensland Tongan community’s strong historical attachment to the Souths club, and that the Annerley base would become the launch pad of the Tongan 7’s efforts
With a community more well known for producing quality front rowers and tight forwards than athletic thoroughbreds that stereotypically occupy the 7’s game, the task to search for a team of players capable of just being competitive in this version of the game and at this great tournament was going to be a difficult task.
These factors as well as only having one full session to work together as a team was tough but under the leadership of Queensland Tongan 7’s lynchpin Somi Tupou and the able support of fellow senior lieutenants Isaac Helu, Sam Satui and Sebastian Filipe, the Queensland Tonga boys were amazingly able to make it to within just one game away from a place in the grand final, eventually succumbing to the powerful Matai Newstar squad in the semi final.
Queensland Tongan Captain Somi Tupou, whose inspirational play-making and organisational skills would not look out of place in our National Tongan team could not hide his satisfaction after being able to reflect on the day.
“Considering how much time we had together to prepare and some of the rookies we had on board playing their first senior hit outs, I couldn’t have been prouder of our boys.”
“Just the way our boys kept putting in for each other out there to compensate for our inexperience was really pleasing to see and is a great foundation to build from for the future for our community’s hopes.”
After accounting for Souths and the dangerous Brisbane Fijian Warriors, the Queensland Tongans went down to the team that would eventually knock them out in the semis Matai Newstar in their final pool game, and earn themselves a spot in the quarters as the second place finisher of Pool C, and up against the tougher first place finisher of Pool D.
The highlight of the day and perhaps the game that announced Queensland Tonga’s arrival as a team of future potential was their quarter final win over the powerful Brisbane Nadro side who finished top of their pool. The Tongan boys were able to implement a combination of a traditional expansive 7’s style combined with a bit of physicality synonymous with the Tongan style of rugby and achieve a great first tournament hit out.
Aside from the senior core players previously mentioned, youngster Siosiua Havea and experienced Queensland Tongan campaigner Kalavite Kaloni had solid showings for the Tongans. It was also pleasing to see the return of the talented Kristian Satui who is on the comeback trail after a serious knee injury.
The entire Queensland Tongan community should be proud of all the boys for their efforts, if the team can keep building in this field, the future certainly looks bright and will also hopefully assist in its own little way to show that with just a little time and effort, Tongans are also capable of excelling in the 7’s arena much in the same way it’s Pacific neighbours do. If Tupou and his charges continue their hard work and doing their bit, there is no doubt that some time in the future that will certainly be the case.
(Inset: Captain Somi Tupou delivers his pre- match address to his troops at the Brisbane 7’s tournament.)