Geraldton Rugby 10s to raise funds for Tonga disaster relief

Headshot of Reuben Carder
Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Eric Ofa is ready to help his beloved Tonga.
Camera IconEric Ofa is ready to help his beloved Tonga. Credit: Reuben Carder/Geraldton Guardian

Rugby season in Geraldton will start off with a special — although solemn — occasion.

The Rugby 10s tournament will run in March on the Labor Day weekend, with proceeds going to support the people of Tonga following the devastating tsunami that struck the nation.

The Geraldton Tiger Sharks’ Eric Ofa said for many in the community it was a deeply personal issue and they hoped to help out any way they could.

“I’m a Tongan myself,” Ofa said.

“All my dad’s brothers and uncles and aunties are there back home.”

He said the island his mother was from had been “flattened” by the tsunami and she had been distraught.

About 300 people from the island had been evacuated, he said.

“You can stand on one side of the island and see the sea on the other side.”

He had also lost contact with his sister for about two weeks after the disaster, before eventually managing to get back in touch but many problems still remained for island residents.

“Even just trying to find normal drinking water (is difficult), because it was contaminated by ashes,” he said.

“They’ve got bore water but that’s like drinking seawater.”

The Tongan Barbarians side from Perth will be competing along with other clubs.

The Tiger Sharks normally use money raised from the 10s carnival to fund their season.

The side sat out last season due to roster availability, but normally travel thousands of kilometres to compete in the community grade.

“The needs of the people in Tonga outweigh our needs, so all the profits made will be donated to Tonga for the tsunami,” Ofa said.

More than 15 teams will be playing in open men’s, social men’s, over-35 masters and women’s divisions.

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