Rugby legend Savae Sir Michael Jones announced today the establishment of the Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame (PRHOF), which will provide a global platform to honour, recognise and celebrate the contribution of Pacific’s rugby heroes, past and present to harness and expand the influence of Pacific rugby and its mark on the game of rugby, further empowering Pacific communities and the next generation of Pasifika rugby heroes and influencers.
“Our Pacific influence runs deep in the world of rugby. The Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame will work to mobilse and unify the Pacific rugby global diaspora, and provide a credible and authentic platform to honour our legends, past and present, and celebrate the Pacific contribution to the game across the rugby landscape,” said Savae Sir Michael Jones, Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame Co-Founder & Chairperson. “Our objective is to lift our communities through the power of rugby and inspire future generations of Pasifika rugby players to excel and serve their people.”
The PRHOF will also pay tribute to Pasifika’s first global superstar and rugby icon, the late Jonah Lomu, by establishing the Jonah Lomu Memorial Award. “Jonah was an inspiration to rugby fans around the world. He meant so much to so many, in particular our own Pasifika community,” Sir Michael commented.
“The Jonah Lomu Memorial Award will be presented to the most outstanding contributor to Pacific Island rugby of the year. Honoring the recipient of this prestigious accolade will be one of the highlights of our annual Celebration Ceremony.”
The PRHOF acknowledges the support of Jonah’s wife Nadene for endorsing this special and significant award.
"This meaningful recognition of Jonah, celebrating who he was and always will be to us all and acknowledging his contribution to rugby holds a special place in our family's heart; particularly for his sons Brayley and Dhyreille.” said Nadene Lomu., “Jonah would be so honoured that his legacy will continue to amplify Pasifika and rugby in this way and I am truly grateful to have the support of Savae Sir Michael Jones and our Pasifika people in all that the boys and I do and stand for."
“It's an honour to be aligned with Savae Sir Michael Jones, Seiuli Jessie Sapolu as an influential collective in unity, and together we will preserve and protect Jonah's legacy despite the adversity I have faced. Leading by example with truth and courage for the next generation to realise the importance of their future, their influence and all that they can become too, despite the challenges we face as Pasifika people” said Nadene Lomu.
The inaugural Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame Celebration Ceremony will be held in early 2024, in Auckland, New Zealand. The event will honor the first four PRHOF Inductees as well as the winner of the Jonah Lomu Memorial Award. Other awards to be presented at the Celebration Ceremony include Pasifika Coach of the Year, Pasifika Women’s Player of the Year, Pasifika Breakthrough Player of the Year and Pasifika Administrator of the Year.
A Selection Committee will be established and tasked with selecting the annual class of Inductees, the Jonah Lomu Award honoree, and winners of the various categories.
The creation of the Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame has taken a lead from the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, established ten years ago to honour the greatest players, coaches, and contributors of Polynesian heritage to gridiron football. The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame is chaired by former NFL All-Pro and 4-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, Seiuli Jessie Sapolu.
“Jessie and other Polynesian NFL legends like former Philadelphia Eagles star Vai Sikahema (Tongan), and Denver Broncos two-time Super Bowl Champion Ma’a Tanuvasa (Samoan) have inspired our Pasifika rugby fraternity to replicate what they have successfully built in the United States. Their outstanding work celebrates Polynesian players and the positive impact of sport on young Polynesians in the US Mainland, Hawai’i, American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga. They have shown us it can be done extremely well, and it’s time for rugby to do the same for our people,” Sir Michael said.
Joining Savae Sir Michael Jones on the PRHOF Board of Directors are Black Ferns Legend and Rugby World Cup winning Captain Seiuli Fioao’o Fa’amausili, former All Black and Tongan community leader Pita Alatini, Flying Fijian star Seremaia Bai, Manu Samoa legend Lemalu Silao Vaisola, and Cynthia Ta’ala Timaloa, former Captain of the Samoa Womens team, Manu Sina. The PRHOF will have a global presence to reflect the movement of Pasifika rugby throughout the U.K., Europe, Japan, and United States.
The U.S. arm of the PRHOF reflects the close working relationship with the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, the growing influence of Pasifika in the US rugby landscape and the excitement for the 2031 Rugby World Cup in the United States. The PRHOF U.S. Board will draw on the experience of Seiuli Jesse Sapolu, alongside Jordan Mailata (former National Rugby League footballer in Australia and starting tackle for the NFL Philadelphia Eagles), Mikey Te’o (2022 Major League Rugby MVP and current San Diego Legion player) and Savae Sir Michael Jones as Chairman. Additional board and committee members will be announced in the coming months.
The Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame is proud to have the support of Founding Partners Major League Rugby and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.