UOW awarded PacificAus Sports grant to support Tongan students
Young athletes to receive world-class training, tertiary education through UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program
The University of Wollongong (UOW) has been awarded a PacificAus Sports Competitive Grant to support promising young Tongan rugby players. PacificAus Sports is an Australian Government initiative that works with Australian organisations to create opportunities for talented Pacific athletes and teams to access high performance coaching, competitions, and facilities.
Five talented Tongan students, to be selected by Tonga Rugby Union, will receive high-performance professional training through the UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program while they pursue studies at the University.
UOW Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Innovation, Enterprise and External Relations) Professor Alex Frino said the past two years have been tough for the Pacific Island country and this funding will support deserving students in gaining a world-class education while developing their rugby skills, and will strengthen Australia’s relationship with Tonga.
“It has been an incredibly challenging time for Tongans following the Tongan tsunami. Sport, including rugby, provides an avenue for fundraising and community connection,” Professor Frino said.
“As a part of the Global Rugby Program, participants will receive professional coaching and services in the areas of on-field coaching and participating rugby players from Tonga will be provided with a chance to be identified by clubs from the Sydney Shute Shield competition which can lead to greater exposure than they may get in their native country.
“UOW is proud to host students from Tonga and provide them with unique and world-class opportunities that will help them succeed in life and we are grateful for this partnership with the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports”
Successful students who will participate in UOW’s Crusaders Program will be identified by Tonga Rugby Union.
Tonga Rugby CEO Peter Harding, a UOW graduate, said the partnership with UOW is unique and will foster stronger relationships between the rugby communities of both countries.
“Tonga Rugby Union is proud to form a partnership with the University of Wollongong and the Crusaders Global Rugby Program here at the University,” Mr Harding said.
“UOW is a world-class university and the Crusaders are the most successful rugby franchise in the world.
“This partnership will allow talented rugby players from Tonga who are also university students to combine these endeavours and experience both a year of unparalleled education in their chosen profession and education on the rugby field. It will assist the players, their families and their communities.
“The program also comes with an outreach plan which will lead to a deeper relationship between the Tonga Rugby Union and the University in the future.”
Crusaders International Academy Manager Grant Keenan said the partnership will provide numerous opportunities for Tongan students wishing to pursue a career in rugby.
“As we support the University of Wollongong to grow their Global Rugby Program, we’re over the moon to see new generation of rugby players from Tonga have the chance to participate,” Mr Keenan said.
“This program carries through the values of the Crusaders International Academy, which encourages both on field and off field skills for each participant.
“By developing players as people first we seek to achieve the best long-term results for athletes to succeed in the future. It’s going to be a real pleasure to help these young athletes from Tonga grow in the ‘Crusaders Way’.”
ABOUT THE UOW CRUSADERS GLOBAL RUGBY PROGRAM
The UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program is a professional rugby training program that UOW students can undertake alongside their studies. The program is designed to attract talented rugby players from across the world who can develop their skills in a professional environment, while studying at UOW or UOW College Australia.
Athletes benefit from professional coaching while gaining a world-class education. This gives participants the opportunity to achieve excellence on the field and in their studies. The program is led by a full-time coach from New Zealand Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders with extensive expertise in player development and high performance coaching.