Rugby union in French Polynesia

Last updated

Rugby union in French Polynesia
Governing body Tahiti Rugby Union
National team(s) Tahiti
Nickname(s)Aito (m)
Hine (f)
First played1971
Registered players1,892
Clubs18 (in 2011) [1]
National competitions
Club competitions

Rugby union in French Polynesia, particularly on the main island of Tahiti, is a popular team sport. Rugby union was first introduced by British, Kiwi and Australian sailors, and also through the French and the strong presence of the game amongst Pacific Nations. Top Tahitian clubs participate in the domestic club league, the Championnat de Tahiti. Clubs also competed in friendlies vs foreign club teams from neighboring nations as far across the Pacific to Chile. [2]


The national side competes annually in the Oceania Cup, last winning the competition in 2017. Traditionally, rugby union matches in French Polynesia tend to be held in the evening rather than the afternoon, due to the tropical climate. [3] Because of this, organisers of rugby union in Tahiti tend to put on entertainment during the day, to keep visiting rugby players etc. happy. [3]

Governing body

The Tahitian union was founded in 1989, and affiliated to the IRB in 1994. [4] [5]


Rugby is greatly growing in popularity in Tahiti, but the national sport still remains soccer.

Rugby came to Tahiti via three separate streams, firstly, through the visits of British, New Zealand and Australian sailors; secondly, through the French presence (many of the main teams are still French military); and thirdly through contact with neighbouring Pacific islands, where the game is popular. [4]

Up to 2003, Tahiti played in international rugby sevens (Pacific Games) and XV-a-side, in the qualifying rounds for the Rugby World Cup. [5]

In 2006, there were fourteen clubs in the national championship and two divisions. [5] There were also sevens competitions, women's rugby, and under-18 rugby competitions as well. [5]

National team

Lack of infrastructure and the dispersed nature of both the geography and population of Tahiti has hindered international success. The Tahiti national rugby union team had its first internationals in 1997, losing 92-6 to Papua New Guinea, and 40-0 to the Cook Islands. To be fair, Oceania is perhaps the toughest arena in World Rugby, having not just the mighty All Blacks, but also the likes of the Wallabies, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, all of which do well in the Rugby World Cup.

Due to Tahiti being a territory of France, rugby players born in Tahiti are actually French citizens, making them eligible to represent France. The issue has been resolved with the IRB, giving the players themselves to choose which country they wish to represent.

Related Research Articles

Tahiti Largest island of French Polynesia

Tahiti is the largest island of the Windward group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, located in the central part of the Pacific Ocean. Divided into two parts, Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, the island was formed from volcanic activity; it is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. Its population is 133,627 inhabitants (2020), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

World Rugby

World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union. World Rugby organises the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport's most recognised and most profitable competition. It also organises a number of other international rugby competitions, such as the World Rugby Sevens Series, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, the World Under 20 Championship, and the Pacific Nations Cup.

Tahiti national football team

The Tahiti national football team represents French Polynesia and is controlled by the Fédération Tahitienne de Football. The team consists of a selection of players from French Polynesia, not just Tahiti, and has competed in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) since 1990.

World Rugby Pacific Challenge Annual rugby union football tournament

The World Rugby Pacific Challenge, formerly the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, is an annual rugby union football tournament held in Oceania since 2006. It is contested by national 'A' teams from the Asia-Pacific region. The tournament is run by World Rugby through Oceania Rugby.

Niue national rugby union team

The Niue Island national rugby union team is the national team of the third tier rugby union playing nation of Niue Island. The team first started playing in 1983 in mainly competes in the Oceania Cup, which it won in 2008. Rugby union in Niue Island is administered by the Niue Rugby Football Union.

The Tahiti national rugby union team is a third tier rugby union team, representing the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France. They first played in 1971 and have played numerous games to date, most against rivals Cook Islands and several against Niue. Other games have been played against Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, Papua New Guinea and Tonga. France played a match against Tahiti at the end of their 1979 tour and won 92–12. Plans to have annual "test" match series against Pacific island neighbours, New Caledonia have been put on hold, due to time, availability, finances, and coaching and refereeing resources. They have yet to qualify for the Rugby World Cup. Rugby union in Tahiti is administered by the Fédération Tahitienne de Rugby de Polynésie Française. Currently, players who have represented or played for the Tahiti national rugby team, are eligible to represent France. However, playing at a professional level can only enable this. At present there are several Tahitian professional rugby players abroad in France's Top 14 and Pro D2 professional competition.

The Cook Islands is a third tier rugby union playing nation. They began playing international rugby in the early 1971. Thus far, the Cook Islands have not made an appearance at any of the World Cups.

Rugby union in Samoa

Rugby union in Samoa is the country's most popular sport. The national teams in both the standard 15-man game and rugby sevens are consistently competitive against teams from vastly more populous nations.

Rugby union in Tonga

Rugby union is the national sport of Tonga. Tonga are considered to be a tier 2 rugby nation by the International Rugby Board.

Rugby union in Fiji

Rugby union in Fiji is a popular team sport and is considered to be the national sport of the country. The sport was introduced to Fiji in the 1880s. Fiji is defined as a tier two rugby nation by World Rugby. The national team has competed at the Rugby World Cup and made it as far as the quarter finals. Their sevens team is also noted for their success, and have won the Rugby World Cup Sevens twice and the World Rugby Sevens Series three times.

Rugby union in the Cook Islands

Rugby union in the Cook Islands is a popular sport. It is a tier three rugby playing nation. They began playing international rugby in 1971 and have yet to make the Rugby World Cup. They are currently rated 55th, with 2,258 registered players and 21 clubs.

The Papua New Guinea national rugby union team, nicknamed the Pukpuks,, played its first international in 1966, defeating Vanuatu 47-3. Papua New Guinea have not so far qualified for a Rugby World Cup. They participated in the Oceania World Cup qualifying tournaments for the 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups, but did not qualify.

Rugby union in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a tier three rugby union playing nation. They began playing international rugby union in 1966 and have yet to make the Rugby World Cup. Teams from Papua New Guinea have competed in the Commonwealth games.

American Samoa national rugby union team

The American Samoa national rugby union team, also known as the "Talavalu", represents American Samoa in international rugby union.

Rugby union is the most popular sport in Fiji ; however, rugby league, netball, and association football are also widely played. Various forms of traditional boat racing and wrestling are also popular.

Index of French Polynesia–related articles Wikipedia index

This page list topics related to French Polynesia.

Oceania Rugby Cup

The Oceania Cup is an international rugby union competition for countries and territories from Oceania with national teams in the developmental band. It is administered by Oceania Rugby.

Rugby union in Guam is a minor but growing sport. They are currently ranked 82nd by the IRB. Although Guam is often considered part of Oceania, it tends to take part in Asian rugby tournaments.

Rugby union is a popular sport in Solomon Islands. The national team have competed in various international competitions. They are currently ranked 69th by the IRB, with 3068 registered players and 24 clubs.

Eddy Etaeta is a football manager and former football player from Tahiti in French Polynesia. He is best known within Oceania for coaching Tahiti to their 2012 OFC Nations Cup title, and is known worldwide for coaching the team during their 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup campaign.


  1. "Tahiti". International Rugby Board. 2011. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  2. South Pacific and Micronesia . Lonely Planet. 2006. p.  53. ISBN   1-74104-304-2.
  3. 1 2 Cotton, p16
  4. 1 2 Bath, p75
  5. 1 2 3 4 (in French) Archives du Rugby: Mayotte retrieved 8 September 2009

Further reading