30 July 2015
With international pre-season, the Pacific Nations Cup and the Rugby Championship underway, the Exiles’ players not currently under the guidance of Tom Coventry and his team at Hazelwood are certainly putting in some hard yards.
The Pacific Nations Cup sees Halani Aulika and new signing Aseli Tikoirotuma face off against each other for Tonga and Fiji respectively, with newly appointed Samoa captain, Ofisa Treviranus, currently out of action.
Round two of fixtures saw Tonga climb up a place in the World Rugby rankings to 12th after a strong 18 – 28 win over Canada with London Irish’s Halani Aulika starting at tight head prop, the Pacific Islanders bouncing back after a 30 – 22 loss to Fiji in the opening round.
Tikoirotuma started on the wing in an exciting 30 – 30 match between Fiji and Samoa, a result which left both sides at the top of their pools and in the top two spots in the over all table, Fiji edging Samoa into first place on points difference.
The final round saw Halani Aulika help Tonga secure a 19 – 33 win over USA but despite the win they narrowly missed out on the finals.
Fiji, who beat Japan 27 – 22, and Samoa, who beat Canada 20 – 21, will face off in the final of the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup.
Ben Franks came off the bench in New Zealand’s 27 - 20 win over the Springboks in the Rugby Championship. The result sets up a title decider between the All Blacks and Australia next weekend with both sides unbeaten so far in the competition.
For London Irish’s Scottish contingent of Blair Cowan and new signing Sean Maitland, there has been a gruelling training camp at altitude in the Pyrenees. A mixture of rugby training, conditioning and team exercises with the French marines awaited the Scots, with Vern Cotter preparing for World Cup warm up matches versus Ireland and Italy ahead of their Pool B clashes with South Africa, Samoa, Japan and USA in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.