Moana Pasifika marked their long-awaited debut in Super Rugby with an “historic” performance against the 10-time champions Crusaders in Dunedin.
Leading a side made of several Pacific Island nations, Sekope Kepu described the experience as “surreal”, and thanked his team for their efforts despite losing 33-12 on Friday.
Moana Pasifika had to wait two weeks longer than expected to play their first Super Rugby match after scheduled matches against the Blues and Chiefs were postponed due to players returning positive tests for coronavirus.
This is great. pic.twitter.com/0O1xbTtH7y
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) March 4, 2022
“It was a special one and I’d like to thank the whanau [family] for this opportunity on this historic day,” said Kepu, who has played 110 Tests for the Wallabies.
“It was pretty surreal. We had the jersey presentation yesterday and heard from [former All Blacks] Sir Michael Jones and Sir Bryan Williams.
“For 26 years they’ve been talking about [having a Pacific team in Super Rugby]. To run out here finally, representing our people and our families, was really special.”
Crusaders captain Quinten Strange added: “They came out and played really well, defended really well and put us under pressure at times.”
OUR FIRST EVER TRY IN SUPER RUGBY GOES TO SOLOMONE FUNAKI 🌊🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/NYZqT8nYCB
— Moana Pasifika Rugby (@MoanaPasifika_) March 4, 2022