BY IRWIN ANGIKI
The long-awaited 2022 rugby championship, dubbed ‘SolRice Grand Premier Rugby Competition’ is set to kick off first week of July.
SolRice and the Honiara Rugby Union Association (HRUA) signed the sponsorship papers yesterday.
Head of Solomons Office SolRice, Mr James Bradford, inking the deal with HRUA President Mr Brian Taupiri, said SolRice is pleased to once again be the major sponsor of the annual rugby union competition.
President Taupiri acknowledged SolRice for the continuous support to rugby in the Solomon Islands, and promised another successful tough and entertaining competition this year.
Last year’s competition has been described as the toughest to date, many lauding the double-division league as providing the stage for a lot of youngsters to shine with their rugby skills and sportsmanship.
Bradford says: “SolRice as a business is always very keen to support sports and sports development in the country, both men’s and women’s sport.
“And, we’ve seen the level of rugby in the country improving year on year. Last year was extremely successful, and we see the 2022 season stepping up again from that.
“And, it will place the country in a very good stand point for 2023 Games.
“We wish all the rugby players and their officials all the best for the season.”
This year’s competition however will only see the Premier Division played. Taupiri explains this is due to constraints brought about by the pandemic, including short time teams have had to prepare, plus the lack of playing fields available due to upgrade works for the Pacific Games.
Furthermore, the grand finale is expected early October, and this three-month timeframe can only cater for the Premier Division to be played.
Eleven teams will tough it out for the first prize – a whopping $50,000.
2021 champions Avaiki returns to defend against 2021 runner-up Matangiki, HammerHeads, Bridge 15s, Islanders, Crusaders, LuaPel, SOSA, Tia Warriors, Police and Diesel.
More than 10 consolation prizes are on offer.
And, the popular man of the match prize continues, now with an additional shirt to serve as memorabilia for the recipients. Taupiri however says for this year, unlike 2021, the man of the match awards will only apply in the play-off stage.
Games will be played at the home of rugby – SIRUF Townground Rugby Stadium.