Monday, November 4th 2013– Today Digicel signed a deal to support the recently established Pacific Island Players’ Association (PIPA) to further their commitment to developing rugby across the Pacific Islands. The Pacific Islands Players Association (PIPA) is an independent body bringing together rugby players who have represented Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and aims to ensure players take responsibility for the on-going development and success of rugby in the Pacific Islands.
PIPA has been in development since November last year, and this new partnership with Digicel formalises the arrangement between players from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The alliance is backed by the International Rugby Players Association (IRPA) and will bring solidarity to all rugby players in the region.
Players from around the globe see the formation of PIPA as a real benefit to not only Pacific Island rugby players but also to the communities they represent. Representatives from all the three teams have reinforced their players commitment to PIPA, Fijian captain from the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Deacon Manu said, “PIPA has been set up to help support and drive Pacific Island rugby to new levels both on and off the field. PIPA will give Pacific Island rugby players a much needed united voice.” Tongan player’s representative Hale T Pole and former Manu Samoa captain and recent two-time super rugby winner with the Chiefs Mahonri Schwalger have been instrumental in ensuring PIPA provides their players a collective voice. Even All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is pleased to see PIPA established; “players from the Pacific Islands have contributed a lot to rugby over the years, in XV’s and 7’s. It is important they get the support they need and respect they deserve.”
For Digicel the newly forged PIPA partnership is testament to Digicel’s support for rugby players in the region. Katie Taylor, Digicel Pacific’s Head of Marketing is excited about the title sponsorship which will expand the organisations footprint in rugby and help improve development and future planning activities for rugby in the region “this is a fantastic opportunity and we are delighted to support PIPA and its members long term. We look forward to helping PIPA grow as an organisation and also help develop rugby”.
One initiative created by this new partnership is the ‘Digicel Pacific Island Rugby Player of the Year Awards’. The awards scheme will be a highlight of the regional rugby calendar and will bring together the biggest names in rugby to celebrate the success of Pacific Island Rugby over the year. The Digicel Pacific Island Player of the Year Awards will include ‘Players Player of the Year’ and ‘Fans Players of the Year’ from each of the three markets of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Voting on these awards is derived from team members in each team and the top ranked player as voted on from each team will win their teams ‘Players Player of the Year’ award and also become a finalist for the overall Pacific Island Players Player of the Year.