Makeshift Lā'ie team captures rugby title Time to go bananas during May 8 race at Ala Moana
The Lā'ie Park Lady Rookies, put together in less than three months and led by former Kahuku and Brigham Young-Hawai'i basketball star Latoya Wily, won the women's club division at the Las Vegas Invitational last month.
The Lā'ie team played five games (seven aside) in one day and beat the Twin Cities Amazons, 19-7, to win the title.
"They're brutes," Amazon's Beth Hettig said on rugbymag.com. "They were really aggressive and it took us time to adjust."
Many of the women were former Hawai'i high school athletes, including Wily, last year's PacWest Player of the Year in basketball for BYUH, and Aggie Tuilevuka, who played volleyball and basketball for the Seasiders.
"Yes, I love rugby ... my new favorite sport," said Wily, who now is an assistant for the BYUH women's basketball team.
"The adrenaline, the contact ... it's an aggressive game," she added. "To me, anybody who plays rugby knows the best of you — physically, athletically, mentally — comes out. It's a fierce game."
Wily got involved when her younger sister's rugby team split up, leaving the team without enough players.
"I just came home one day and she (Artevia) was sad because there was no rugby team so a bunch of us got together and started coming out to practice and the coach loved us. That's how the new team started," Wily said.
Wily said she was not surprised at the team's instant success.
"I knew (we would succeed) because of the way our girls worked and the way our coaches trained us," she said.
Coach Petuliki Mafile'o, 38, who's been involved in rugby since his high school days in Tonga, said: "I trained them hard. The girls worked so hard to get to that level to win the tournament and I was so proud of the girls.
"Most of this team, it's the first time they're playing (rugby)," Mafile'o said. "The practice I gave them — training and conditioning — are for men. I always told the ladies, when you come play rugby, I'm going to treat you like a man."
After the tournament victory, Mafile'o said the women came to him and said, "Now we know coach why you pushed us to run."