Aleki is an ex-international player himself playing hooker for Tonga, earning 37 caps. Alekis role within the Tongan coaching team involves a mixture of coaching the forwards, team influence, pastoral care and presenting the players selected to represent Tonga against England on Saturday with their match day shirts.
“It’s a great honor for me to help out with our national team’s preparation for their match against England this weekend. The Tongan rugby CEO contacted me in September and I am delighted to be able to contribute and support in any way I can” explained Aleki when asked about how he landed the role. “It’s been great spending time with the boys and seeing them training extremely hard. It’s also been really good learning from international professional rugby coaches.”
Tonga suffered a big defeat against Scotland last weekend at Murreyfield losing 60-14. “We had very limited time to prepare for our match against Scotland last week but came away with both positives and negatives of how we played. This week we have had a bit more time to prepare as a team for our upcoming match versus England.”
Aleki is looking forward to the teams next challenge against England and is hoping for a good game of rugby. “We are hugely grateful for this opportunity and very excited for the match! It is a massive challenge but the team have prepared well so far in camp and no doubt will give everything they have on the pitch”
We caught up with Gareth the Regional Co-ordinator for the Midlands, who works with Aleki delivering the Dallaglio RugbyWorks intervention. “We’ve had a few young people ask where Aleki is this week, so they clearly miss him and have been impressed by the explanation for his absence. If having met one of the Tongan coaches encourages them to tune in to watch the game, that’s a positive influence. Fingers-crossed, they are then further encouraged to engage and participate in sessions.”
When asked about the upcoming fixture against England, Gareth said “Unfortunately, my playing commitments mean that I won’t get to watch the game live but I’m sure that Aleki and I will find time to analyse and discuss the game. Certainly, if Tonga win I’ll have no escape!
I’m confident that England will win. Tonga will be motivated and they’ll compete upfront, particularly in Aleki’s areas of expertise, contact and scrum time. Tonga’s probably now my second team and, with the gulf in resources etc becoming more and more apparent, I have a huge amount of admiration/appreciation of their effort, commitment and pride in representing their country.”
Tonga will face England this Saturday 6th November in Twickenham at 3:15pm which can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video from 2:30pm.
Over the last two weeks England and Wales women’s rugby squads have shown exactly why young girls should be given the opportunity to play rugby. Wales played Japan in their opening game of the Autumn campaign on November 7th playing an extremely fast paced and competitive game against the Japanese, who are positioned just one below them on the world rankings. Wales came out on top, winning their first game in over two years 23-5. England have also been showing extreme class and skill on the pitch winning two games on consecutive weekends against New Zealand’s black ferns. The red roses won their first match at Sandy Park in Exeter 43-12 and their second at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium 56-15 to put them at number one in the world rankings ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
During the recent October half term, Dallaglio RugbyWorks delivered its first ever female only rugby camp at Sutton and Epsom RFC. Over 30 young girls took part in the holiday camp over two days, ranging from under 8’s to under 16’s, with numerous activities focused on developing their rugby knowledge and key life skills.
Andrea from our London team expressed how successful he believes the event was. “The girls-only Rugby Camp at Sutton & Epsom RFC has been a great opportunity for young women to stay active during half-term and to challenge themselves in a learning and fun environment. Every participant showed us commitment and passion for the game and it’s been amazing to be part of their journey. For DRW it has been the very first camp of its kind and considering the great success that it has been, we can’t wait to organise something similar in the future.”
Joing the squad was our newly appointed CEO Zenna, who said “I’m absolutely delighted to be at Dallaglio RugbyWorks’ first ever girls only rugby camp. It’s so important that we give young women the opportunity to try new sports, get exposed to new things, play as a team and build their confidence. I’d like to give a special thank you to Sutton and Epsom RFC for supporting us in delivering more opportunities to young women.”
Dallaglio RugbyWorks coaches from all over the country also attended the London event. “This holiday camp has been a great opportunity to bring coaches from different regions together. We have female coaches from Wales and the North-West joining the London team. It allows the girls to see more female representation in the coaching staff and hopefully not only inspire them to play rugby but also become the next generation of coaches.” said Wales Lead Coach, Brittany.
Also present at this event was Dallaglio RugbyWorks’ alumni Samir, who is currently on an apprenticeship with Cheersmate where he is a junior content producer. His role there involves maintaining the social media output and the creation of content through use of a camera and production software. All photographs used in this article were taken by Samir. This is what he had to say about the camp “It was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed the way the coaches brought everyone together and made everyone feel welcome, I wish I was young again to join in!”
We hope to provide more opportunities for female rugby participation in the near future and will continue to provide our initiatives to disadvantaged boys and girls across England and Wales.