Tomorrow, September 30, 2017, Kunming, China welcomes rugby enthusiasts at The Little Bees Rugby Open.

  • Kunming is the booming capital of Yunnan, China.

  • Even though it is famously known as the “City of Eternal Spring”, it lies almost at the tropical line. But it’s 2000m altitude makes it known also for a temperate climate.

  • And the temperature rises as it hosts the second annual Rugby Open Tournament.

The first ever Hong Kong-Samoan team that represent strong cultures. From L-R, 1st row: Hogan Toomalatai (Team Captain), Osmond Atonio, Falaniko Solomona, Zac Suisala, Malama Rafael Leilua Piliae. From L-R, 2nd row: Joseph Cadousteau, Ilalio Misi, Jonathan Floodman, Tui Tanielu. Some of the members of the team that are not here are: Mark Timoteo Limamea and Earvin Vaafuti

Last year, Kunming had hosted a Rugby Open Tournament that attracted rugby enthusiasts of many nations including Samoa.

Many Polynesians, in fact, are imports playing for certain clubs. The Samoans from Hong Kong played for Little Bees and turned out as Champions of the Tournament for the year 2016 in Kunming.


Chief Malama defines the word hustle!
This year, Malama Rafael Leilua Piliae (Manager) and Junior Su’a (Head Coach) decided to form their own team. Chief Malama, as called by the entire team, shares that because of their record last year under Little Bees, they can actually join independently. As planned, they represent Hong Kong as a Samoan community. He expects that the boys would come out strong and win. Like any other team, this seems to be the aim. “We trained for a couple of months in the sand, in the field and worked hard in having the same pulse and breath. I expect for the team to do great.”

Junior Su’a, who is not just experienced, but is a certified leader and trainer for Rugby players had been more than a coach to the team. He had been coaching professionally for a long time. But he chose this team’s members personally along with Piliae starting with Hogan Toomalatai as the leading team captain. With Junior’s dedication of putting the skills of these boys out there, he travels to the Yunnan hub with full conviction and determination. He had known these boys for a while and he has no doubts. He is pretty confident that they will not go home empty-handed.

Junior Su’a trains youngsters to be responsible and witty beasts in the field. 

Hogan Toomalatai scoring to complete their championship title at the Hong Kong Rugby Beach 5’s 2015


Hogan Toomalatai who had played Rugby since he was young mentioned confidence with how the boys are full on in winning. Committing hundred percent to something makes a lot of difference than coming to a tournament still undecided of yourself. When asked of what he gauges as their strength, he mentioned about their backs as they have a line up of strong men for that. “All of my teammates can score, all of my teammates can defend the ball. We aim to remain tight and powerful as a team.”, according to another veteran himself. He had played in different rugby clubs in Hong Kong namely, the team of the Hong Kong Police, Kowloon and now, with Discovery Bay Rugby Team. With his brother, Falaniko Solomona and the strong boys from Samoa and America, he leads the pack into warrior mode. “Definitely, we will take as much opportunity to do offence but our defense is not bad at all.”


The thing you have to understand greatly about rugby is that it’s like NFL minus the helmet, and less the pads. All you have are massive bulky men in skimpy shorts. Nobody should test the waters without any form of training and whose minds are set somewhere else.

But it’s not just all physical. If you can run fast, that’s not enough either. Sidesteps help a lot. Being able to kick is a necessity. But the most important thing is how you tackle to help your team to move on to bring the ball to the goal.

Falaniko Solomona in beast mode running home with the ball.
Overall, the team is hoping for the best. They fearlessly represent Hong Kong and Samoa. Their roots maybe Samoan in nature but they will never be all together for this tournament if not for Hong Kong. To that, may they represent well.


I have a deep regard for your time. It's when I write and cook that time becomes non-existent. I love learning and while you think I am the kind of lady who has a lot of things to say, just take it that I was sharing what I had learned with full impact over a cup of Joe.

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