Australian Defence Force Rugby League partnered with the NRL to mentor league-loving nation Fiji in March during a week-long tour in Suva.

The program delivered junior and senior programs focused on the fundamentals of sport and healthy lifestyles.

“The values of sport – competition, teamwork and fair play – help build trust between countries and bring people together."

ADF Rugby League (ADFRL) President Air Commodore Ken Quinn said sports diplomacy is an increasingly important aspect of diplomacy and a growing part of global sports.

“Sport is a universal language and plays a unique role in showcasing Australia’s identity, values and culture,” he said

“The values of sport – competition, teamwork and fair play – help build trust between countries and bring people together."

ADFRL program manager Group Captain Jay Clarke organised the tour with the Australian Rugby League, Fiji Rugby League and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

“The programs aim to create closer sporting ties, build more people-to-people links between the ADF and our Defence and rugby league counterparts,” Group Captain Clarke said.

“We enjoy working in Fiji and look forward to putting the skills to the test in a tournament environment later this year.”

(L-R) Coaches and clinic participants of the ADF rugby league tour of Fiji: RAAF Leading Aircraftwoman Meg Ward, Ilaitia Volavola, RAAF Group Captain Jay Clarke and Orisi Tobula during a senior clinic held in Suva, Fiji.

Air Force and NRL player Leading Aircraftwoman Meg Ward saw the benefits of the tour.

“The programs provide strong engagement through the clinics, as well as school and community activities,” she said.

“It is a really rewarding opportunity to be able to share knowledge and skills from my Defence and rugby league experience, as well as get tips to improve my own game.”

Australia and Fiji have a relationship built on long-standing senior level engagement, training, maritime security, humanitarian assistance-disaster relief, and peacekeeping.