A large crowd of supporters came together to celebrate Deaf rugby in a friendly game between the Deaf Māori & Pacific Island Invitational XV and the Japan Deaf Rugby team. Although the Māori & Pacific Islanders team started training seven weeks before the match, it was a new experience for both them and their coach, Richard Peri. The team’s kaumatua, Ivan Tamepo, came in support of them and gave the boys some encouragement behind the scenes.
The main aim for the Japanese team was to condition themselves prior to the World Deaf Rugby Championships held in Auckland. The Māori & Pacific Island Deaf team had another goal – to encourage more Māori & Pacific Island Deaf to be involved in the competition alongside developing a sport for Deaf Māori and Pacific Island kids when they finish kura [school].
The match was held at Massey Park, Papakura on Saturday 17 August 2002. In the last minutes of the match, the Japanese visitors crossed the try line and took the win to the delight of their supporters, with the final score 20 to 17. At the end of the day, it was a great game of rugby for the Māori Deaf team as this was a Japanese team who were contenders in the World Deaf Rugby Championships.
In the initial tournament schedule, Japan was to play two friendly games against a combined New Zealand Māori & Pacific Island Deaf Team. However, the late withdrawal of Fiji from the tournament meant that Australia and Wales would play half of the number of games expected. They were compensated by playing one additional friendly match. The results of the friendly games as below:
- Japan vs Māori/Pacific Island – 17 August 2002, Massey Park, 20 – 17 (Japan)
- Wales vs Māori/Pacific Island – 18 August 2002, Waitemata Park, 41 – 10 (Wales)
- Australia vs Presidents XV, College Rifles RFC, 21 August 2002, 77 – 14 (Australia)
- Australia vs Japan, Eden Park, 24 August 2002, 65 – 7 (Australia)
Note: Captions added by SignDNA. Featured on ‘Marae’ and shown on 1 September 2002, ‘Excerpt of Deaf Rugby’.
Māori & Pacific Island Deaf Rugby Invitational XV
Tinga Katipa – Captain (Māori), Tetauo Ualesi – Vice-Captain (Samoan), Hemi Hema (Māori), Luke Grey (Māori), Paul Lindsay (Cook Island), Nukuvae Rua (Cook Island), Alexander Folomu (Nuie), Tauri Lyndon (Māori), Rodney Noble (Māori), Dustin Whippy (Fiji), James Howie (Kiwi), Anthony Masiniva (Niue), Daniel Greenwood (Samoa), Leith Tangiwai (Māori), Hoia Tatana (Māori), William Ellis (Māori), Sheldon Patuawa (Māori), Retimana Paul (Māori), Sailusi Toalima (Samoa), Bradley Poutai (Māori), Eli Elisara (Samoa), Richard Peri – Coach (Māori), Togia Lanefale – Manager (Niue/Māori).
Japan Deaf Rugby XV
Kazunari Baba, Fiji Chiba, Satoshi Fujie, Hidenori Harahige, Isao Karino, Yasuhisa Kawakami, Ikke Konaka, Takashi Miyauchi, Mitsuru Motte, Takaeshi Isaka, Toshikazu Ishii, Hirohi Ito, Seiichirou Iwasa, Takayuki Ochiai, Massaya Oba, Masatomo Ryoke, Takahito Saeki, Toshitaka Sato, Susumu Shibatani, Satoshi Tashiro, Yasuji Ueda, Toshibumi Usui, Kei Kobayashi, Kanji Mizobata – Coach, Jin Hasegawa – Manager.