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Rugby union in Tokelau

Rugby union in Tokelau is a popular sport.[1]


File:Fakaofo Atoll.jpg
The atoll of Fakaofo: rugby is popular in the islands, but is hindered by geographical factors, such as distance, and lack of space.

Like many other Pacific nations, Tokelauan rugby is a popular, but often not formally organised sport. Tokelauans due to their small numbers, and scattered island population, have often preferred rugby sevens to the XV game,[2] although Tokelau did play rugby 15s at the 1983 South Pacific Games including a creditable 15–28 loss to PNG, a much larger Pacific nation.[3]

Rugby Sevens has been a sport in the South Pacific Games since the late 1990s.

There is also a semi-formal league structure.

Tokelau's main problems are related to population and geographical factors - its population is a mere 1,416, and lives on three widely separated tropical coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. All of this makes a rugby infrastructure difficult to construct, and the islands are beset by rising sea levels. The geographic future of Tokelau depends on the height of the ocean. No significant land is more than two metres above high water of ordinary tides. This means Tokelau is particularly vulnerable to any possible sea level rises caused by global warming. There is also a lack of land for specifically designated rugby pitches.

Tokelau’s close relationship with New Zealand and Australia, however, ensures that rugby union gets a lot of media coverage in Tokelau.

Tokelau took part in a rugby sevens tournament in the Cook Islands in June, 2009.[4]

Rugby league comparison

Unlike most Pacific Islands, where rugby league is a recent introduction from Australia, the rival code has had a minor presence in Tokelau since the late 1980s.[5] However, like some other national rugby league teams, the national side has relied on Australian based players with Tokelauan heritage to bolster its strength.


  1. ^ South Pacific and Micronesia. Lonely Planet. 2006. p. 682. ISBN 1-74104-304-2. 
  2. ^ Tokelau Community 7's
  3. ^ "South Pacific Games". The Rugby Archive. 1983. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Two days of rugby union sevens
  5. ^ Rugby League Planet, retrieved 8 July 2009

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