Easter Island, a small Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean best known for its hundreds of colossal ‘moai’ statues, is beginning to make a name for itself as a rugby nation. This weekend the nation’s players took part in a rugby event on mainland Chile.
According to Americas Rugby News, the team, known as the Rapa Nui, took part in the Copa I. Municipalidad de San Carlos, a sevens tournament.
The game only appeared on the island back in 2002, but in the 14 years since it has gone from strength to strength, with many schools taking up the game. One of the main proponents of the sport on the island is James Grant Peterkin, an expatriate Scottish linguist and Cambridge graduate (via ABC), who was brought to the island fascinated by the island’s national tongue, a mix of Spanish and Rapa Nui.
The Rapa Nui even have their own version of the haka, a tribal war dance made famous by the New Zealand All Blacks. They call this the ‘hoko’, which can be seen here:
Video credit: cl0wncillo
There are currently three teams on the island, but plans are afoot to continue to grow the game and potentially start a domestic league on the island.
Of course, this is very early days for the team, but it is encouraging for the globe’s governing body, World Rugby, that the sport continues to grow and grow and is reaching out to remote communities on every continent. A quick look at World Rugby’s list of member unions shows just how far-reaching rugby’s appeal is becoming, even if the number of fully professional teams is still limited.
With the World Cup being held in Asia for the first time in 2019, these are exciting times for rugby and hopefully the next edition of the tournament will help to stimulate further interest in the game, particularly in a geographical and political powerhouse like Japan, where the game is still very much in its infancy.
For now though, let’s celebrate the rise of rugby in Easter Island and the accomplishments of the Rapa Nui. They are small steps, but sevens could well be the route for the team to make a name for itself.
According to Americas Rugby News, once the players have returned to Easter Island, they will then be involved in several future tournaments. In the final week of June the Rapa Nui will play in an international sevens tournament in Tahiti, which has World Rugby member status. Later in the year, the island will be playing in mainland Chile once again.
Best of luck for the future, Easter Island!
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
Heineken Rugby Club celebrates and rewards real supporters who make the game what it is.
Read More About: 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2019 world cup, All Blacks, americas rugby, chile, chilean rugby, China, easter island, global appeal, Haka, international rugby, japan, new zealand, rapa nui, rugby development, rugby world cup, rugby world cup 2019, rugby's future, san carlos, sevens, world rugby