Kona Royals U18 team win state Rugby league championship for first time
For the first time, The Kona Royals U18 boys team won the Hawai’i Youth Rugby League championship, which was held March 17 and 18 at Old Kona Airport Park.
After an undefeated season, the Royals beat local club Poly United, 14-5.
The Kona Royals U8 team also placed first in the state for its division.
“I am so proud of every single one of our players, who worked hard all season to earn this championship win,” said U18 co-coach Anna Symonds. “They truly played as a team, and it was a joy to see their talents, character and determination on display.”
The team, comprised of high school-aged players, had players from four schools: Konawaena, Kealakehe, Makua Lani and Puna. Symonds said some of the teens are multi-sport state champs, having also played on the winning Konawaena High football team last fall.
Rebuilding the youth rugby program has been challenging after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted sports because of gathering size restrictions, Symonds said. But a lot of momentum was put back into the sport this season.
“We welcome all interested players to join us — no experience needed, we will teach you rugby,” Symonds said. “We are fortunate to have great support from the parents and families of our whole rugby ‘ohana, who are so involved in uplifting our organization and helped make hosting the state championship possible.”
The director of The Royals program is Polua “Fili” Filiva’a, and the U18 co-coach is Stu Monks, with support from the other program coaches Mauna Taumoefolau, Moa Noble and others.
Filiva‘a said he encourages all players, especially high schoolers, to come try out for rugby as more colleges are offering scholarships for the sport.
Training starts in November, right after high school football and the season runs from January to March.
Player roster for the state competition included: Tavoi Filiva’a (Captain), Tim Huerta, Quincy Davis, Judah Grosch, Triton Rivera, Keau Higashi, Keawe Navas Loa, Ezekiel Alapa’i-Toli, Tua Hanohano and Niu Lauano.