International Rugby League match marks Samoa Independence Day at Aloha Stadium
HONOLULU, HI — USA Tomahawks will meet the Toa Samoa from sovereign Samoa in an historic Rugby League match that will mark Samoa Independence Day, Saturday, June 1, 2013, at the Aloha Stadium.This is the first time a rugby league international test match will be played on the Hawaiian Airlines field at Hawai’i’s largest outdoor arena – home to the University of Hawaii Warriors football team and the annual NFL Pro Bowl game.“This game means a lot,” said Kelly McGill, president of Grand Pacific Events which is hosting the June 1 game. “Both USA and Samoa have made the Rugby League World Cup. Both are in the top 10. This is a really important game.”Hawai’i Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will be in attendance, McGill told tautalatala.com.McGill, a Tomahawks player, says in preparation for the Rugby League World Cup the US had to find “new talent” so the June 1 match, in part, is being held “to see where we’re at…to find the team chemistry.”Philadelphia-based Tomahawks, the United States’ national rugby league team, has made the Rugby League World Cup this year, their first time in the tournament set for Oct. 26 through Nov. 30, 2013. England and Wales will host the tournament and games will also be played in France and Ireland.Governing body of rugby league football is the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF). It is not to be confused with rugby union football which is governed by the International Rugby Board (IRB). In the IRB, USA Eagles represent the Unites States and Manu Samoa represents independent Samoa. The two different rugby codes can be referred to simply as “league” and “union” rugby.“It's a win-win situation for us,” said Keikiokalani Misipeka-Kelemete, a former Manu Samoa player who is on the Tomahawks roster.McGill and Misipeka-Kelemete excitedly agree that rugby league offers a new opportunity for island youth.