Trying time: Super Rugby scorers assist Tonga volcano appeal
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Every try scored in the first 10 rounds of Super Rugby Pacific this season will aid Tonga’s recovery from last month’s volcanic eruption and tsunami.
Rugby Australia and Rugby New Zealand on Wednesday announced the “Tries for Tonga” campaign which will see money donated to the Red Cross Pacific Tsunami Appeal every time a try is scored.
The Jan. 15 eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano sent a tsunami crashing onto Tonga’s coastline which caused widespread damage. The Pacific Island nation is also recovering from the cloaking fall of ash which followed the eruption.
The rush to bring aid to Tonga also introduced COVID-19 into the island community for the first time since the pandemic began, forcing the nation into lockdown. Tonga remains in need of food, water, hygiene and medical supplies.
Around 84% of Tonga’s 86,000 residents are thought to be affected by the eruption and tsunami and are in need of assistance, according to the Red Cross.
Rugby Australia said it was pleased to work with New Zealand Rugby and TV broadcasters to assist Tonga’s recovery, committing 500 Australian dollars ($360) per try in the first 10 rounds.
Moana Pasifika, a team comprising players from Tonga and other Pacific Island nations, will compete in the Super Rugby tournament this season for the first time.
Moana Pasifika, which is based in New Zealand this season, has already has played a fundraising match against the Chiefs, the Hamilton, New Zealand-based Super Rugby club.
“The Hunga Tonga eruption and tsunami has had a devastating impact on the people of Tonga and the surrounding region,” Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said in a statement. “As a rugby community, we felt it was important to bind together and contribute to the relief efforts, as the Tongan community play an important role in our rugby ecosystem.”
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said there had been a strong desire in rugby in New Zealand and Australia to make a sustained contribution to the Tonga relief effort.
“The Tongan people have contributed and continue to contribute so much to our game so it is only right that rugby is there to support one of our closest Pacific neighbors in their time of need,” Robinson said.
Super Rugby Pacific season kicks off Feb. 18.
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