WA Premier Roger Cook will kick off Australia’s biggest multicultural rugby league festival on Saturday as over 5000 players and spectators head to Rockingham for the Harmony Cup Nines festival at the Larkhill Sportsplex.
Hosted by the Rockingham Sharks rugby league club, the event, now in its seventh year, will see over 60 teams take part in men’s, women’s and junior competitions over three days.
And with teams representing countries from as far away as France it is sure to be a colourful occasion.
“It’s great to see the popularity of rugby league continues to grow in WA, including with grassroots players,” the Premier said.
“There’s nothing better than an exciting game of rugby league, and I’d like to congratulate the organisers on bringing all cultures together for one of our State’s biggest successful multicultural sporting events.”
Jillaroo Tallisha Harden, who currently captain’s the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRLW, and former Raiders, Dragons and Sea Eagles NRL star Joel Thompson will host a series of mental health awareness seminars for teams as part of the NRL Grassroots initiative and the junior State of Mind program.
Teams include Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, PNG, Great Britain, France, the Royal Australian Navy, Indigenous and Aussie sides, as well as a variety of Kiwi & Maori teams from across New Zealand, all hoping to achieve what one side from the land of long white cloud did last year, win.
Kani Solomon is the only player in the history of the event with five titles to his name, four with defending champions Hawaiki Roa, and one with Hawaiki Pamamao.
But the indigenous ‘Natives’ and the Aussie ‘Bushrangers’ will be out to stop that as players go back to their roots to represent their rugby league origins.
“I sadly won’t be playing this year, but I can tell you it’s an amazing event that brings all the cultures together to play rugby league,” Solomon said.
“It’s fast and exciting free flowing footy, great to play in and great to watch.”
Natives United, representing indigenous players will be going all out to win their first Harmony title having been beaten twice in previous finals.
As well as the men’s tournament, the women are well represented with Aotearoa Queenz the favourites, although their rivals Hawaiki Roa will be looking at adding another title.
Western Fijian Civa are a team to be reckoned with, along with new side Taranaki and Tonga has recruited from rugby union to play in the event.
Their colourful Sipi Tau chant before games is always a highlight of the weekend and Paasi Fine, who has played in all six previous Harmony Nines, said they have been in training for the past two months.
“We take it very seriously because it’s such a fantastic event,” Fine said.
“There is surprisingly a large Tongan community in Perth and we all love our rugby league.”
Men’s socials, men’s and women’s masters, and boys and girls competitions make up an awesome weekend of rugby league as Samoan stalwart Tausaga Kelemete has confirmed.
Samoa has six teams entered, an under-16s boys and girls teams, women’s and men’s masters and open age in both men and women.
“It’s a fantastic event, we’ve been part of it since 2017,” she said.
“It all started a few months ago when we designed and ordered our jerseys and for us success is seeing rugby league grow.”
SBS will broadcast the finals live on SBS on Demand on Sunday, October 29 from 1.15pm [WA]
“As the only media organisation dedicated to inspiring a shared understanding and promotion of cultural diversity, SBS are proud to support the Harmony Cup Nines and bring the event to Australians live and free via SBS On Demand.” Ken Shipp, Director of Sport, SBS, said.
The Harmony Cup Nines takes place at Larkhill Sportsplex, Port Kennedy, from October 27-29 with Minister for Education, Aboriginal Affairs, Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, Dr Tony Buti, presenting trophies to the winning teams on the final day.
For further information contact Mr John Sackson, General Manager (NRL WA) on 0448 452 880.