The Romano Group Tweed Head Seagulls will play in the first Queensland Cup-level game outside of Australia and PNG when they join the Ipswich Jets in the Ohana Cup in Hawaii in October.
In a major coup for the Seagulls, the Intrust Super Cup teams will clash in Waikiki on Saturday October 14. Canada are set to send an emerging domestic squad to play the Hawaiian Chiefs, who will again be captained by Scott Prince, in the other match.
The Ohana Cup has been held over the past five years and has featured RLIF-sanctioned Test matches involving Canada, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the USA as well as touring Australian teams.
President of the HRL Kelly McGill said that Hawaii is fast falling in love with rugby league after three Hawaiians were part of the USA Tomahawks side that made the quarter-finals in the 2013 World Cup.
He is expecting big vocal crowds Ohana Cup matches. Children have been joining up to play flag footy and NRL games now shown live in bars around the Aloha State. He said Hawaii used his Ohana Cup model to forge a relationship with the NBA’s LA Clippers and remain keen to embrace rugby league on that level.
This will be an historic event, according to the QRL’s head of football Neil Wharton who confirmed that it would be the first exhibition match played between two Intrust Super Cup outside of Australia and PNG and the first time two elite level Australian club teams have played a match against each other outside of Australia, PNG and New Zealand .
Seagulls CEO Scott Clark said will fly to Hawaii in April to meet the HRL and help plan the community engagement of the two Queensland clubs which will involve school clinics around Oahu, the main island of Hawaii. Clark was keen to continue the work in Hawaii of head coach Aaron Zimmerle who coached Canada in the Ohana Cup midway through last season.
“It’s a great opportunity for our players and we have organized some exciting supporter packages through our travel partner which we will announce soon,” said Clark.
Ipswich Jets are excited to take the fastest team in the world to Hawaii, said their CEO Jason Cubit. The Jets have hosted several Hawaiian players in the past and donated apparel to the Hawaiian rugby league community.
Both clubs are working with Hawaiian Airlines, Hyatt Place Waikiki and their travel agents so that supporters can share in history being made in paradise.