Sol Henare is the Pacific Islanders Team founder and the guy pushing forward Beach 5s in New Zealand!
1. You have been involved with Beach 5s foa a long time, and you are also the founder of Pacific Islanders Beach 5s team. What memories do you save from those times?
R: My first beach rugby experience in Europe was Lignano in 2005 and we were blown away with the passion, professionalism and polish of the tournament. We went back in 2007 with the PI team and have returned every year since. Lots of fond memories, special memories and something we enjoy a lot is what we call in New Zealand the Manaakitanga: the coming together of people, sharing food, connecting and caring for one another.
2. How is the Beach 5s scene in New Zealand? Fully established or just starting?
R: After discussions with various provincial RFU and the NZRFU, the general feeling I got is that there isn’t much on the ground as far as BEACH 5s is concerned however we are in close contact with the NZRFU and they are watching with interest.
So to answer your question, we are just starting out.
3. You are now organizing a Beach 5s tournament in New Zealand. Tell us a little bit more about the tournament and the venue where it’s held.
R: Our event, the MOUNT BEACH 5s, is the first major beach 5s tournament New Zealand has seen. The venue, know as Mt Maunganui or the Mount for short, is one of NZ’s premier beach spots in the summer and will be teeming come November, which is when we start our summer here in NZ. With teams coming from all over NZ, we are expecting to grow exponentially and tap into NZ’s massive rugby pedigree.
4. How would you convince anyone to go and participate in your tournament?
R: It’s not hard in NZ to round up some friends, head to the beach and play some footy so there’s no need to convence anyone here. Looking forward, the challenge is attracting overseas teams. Working against us is our location and the price to get here however all NZer’s believe we are the rugby mecca and if people want a crack at the best, then they have to come to NZ. We may be just starting our BEACH 5s journey, however, we have huge resources and rugby nous to tap into and it won’t take long before NZ teams are flying out to take on the world!
5. Beach 5s are going viral all over the world. How do you see the future of Beach 5s?
R: Our vision in NZ is very clear: to promote and develop Beach 5s here in NZ.
Globally, I see it as a great avenue for tier 2 and 3 nations to develop their rugby knowledge base and for tier 1 nations to begin to invest more in this exciting brand of rugby. What that investment will look like will vary from country to country, but it will take a forward thinking nation to make a considerable investment and see some real positive returns. If those positive returns enhance the national team in the other forms of rugby (7s, XVs) other RFU’s will be on notice to adapt…or get left behind!
Thanks and good luck for your tournament!