Vekekina Fokelelei Malafu
Austin Elite Rugby Adds ‘Flyin Hawaiian’ Malafu
Vetekina Malifa was born in Maui and graduated from Henry Perrine Baldwin High School in Wailuku, Hawaii. He currently lives in Kihei, Hawaii.
He began to play rugby at age 13 with Maui Rugby at the Kihei Youth Center and has spent time helping others with the sport when he returns home.
In high school, he played football and track. He was the state champion in the hurdles and was also a sprinter. Upon graduation from high school, he attended Snow College in Ephraim, Utah on a football scholarship in 2013.
Kina’s Maui Rugby Coach, Jack Breen played rugby with Gregg ‘Doc’ Jones for Philadelphia-Whitemarsh and this connection brought Kina to Kutztown University to play rugby in Spring, 2014. While there, he developed his natural rugby talents and will graduate this December.
While at Kutztown, he soon was on the national radar, with an outstanding performance at the Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2014. Kutztown reached the final against Cal, with Kina outpacing the defense for a try as time expired in their 24-21 final loss. He would play in two more CRCs while at the University, in 2016 and 2017.
Kina is also a two time All-American. We traveled to Queensland, Australia in 2016 with the Men’s Collegiate All-Americans. He played with the All-Americans against Oxford University prior to the Aviva Premiership Rugby match between the Newcastle Falcons and the Saracens at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA. on September 16, 2017.
As a result of his performance, he was selected as a home reserve for the 2017 Americas Pacific Challenge.
Rugby sevens have also been important for Kina. He played in the 2016 and 2017 Rugbytown 7s with the Ramblin Jesters. During the 2017 Summer Club 7s season, Kina played with the Austin Huns in Nationals.
USA Collegiate Rugby recognized his talents as he was honored as a first-team All-American in rugby sevens and a D1A Rugby 15s Honorable Mention.
While the rugby honors are important, his graduation in December from Kutztown will be a source of family pride for his accomplishments. He will be the first member of his family to do so.
After graduation Kina will turn his attention to playing professional rugby with the Austin Elite Rugby.
Jack Breen, Maui Rugby Coach
“Kina Malafu started playing with Maui Rugby at the Kihei Youth Center field when he was about 13 years olf and immediately stood out with his natural speed. But what stood out, even more, was his character, humble, eager to learn, polite, willing to work very hard, and always looking to help those younger to develop themselves.
He was committed to football and track in high school, but he would play rugby as his schedule allowed. He chose at first to pursue football in college, while his good friend and high school teammate in both football and track, Vili Toluta’u chose to pursue getting his advanced education through rugby.
Kina and I remained in contact and he always invited us to join us for touch rugby when he was home for school breaks.
Vili began traveling the world with rugby and earned a rugby scholarship to Central Washington University and stayed in close contact with Kina. He finally got Kina believing what I had been telling him, you can get many great opportunities through rugby.
Doc Jones and I were teammates for ten years or so at Whitemarsh and Philadelphia-Whitemarsh and hung up our boots around the same time, which is when he started Kutztown Rugby. Ever since then I have been hoping to help to connect players I knew would fit into his program, which I greatly admire.
Vil wanted to stay closer to home, but Kina was more adventurous and liked the idea of studying in the East. Doc and he met over the phone and we all agreed Kina could be the perfect trailblazer for what we hoped would be a pipeline from Hawaii to Kutztown.
Kina is a good student and earned good grades at Snow College and continued to do so at Kutztown. He presents himself extremely well and is able to make it ‘off the rock’ and what it means to their family and the entire island community when they do.
He was instrumental in the Kutztown taking a chance on several other youngsters from the islands, one each from the Big Island, Oahu, and Maui. But the transition from island living to live in Amish Country is not an easy one and opportunities to play overseas lured the other athletes from Hawaii away.
Kina has also had opportunities to play professionally overseas, but understands the value of earning his degree and will make his family, and our entire Maui Rugby Ohana even more proud of him then we already are, and that is extremely proud.”
Kutztown University Rugby Head Coach Gregg ‘Doc’ Jones
“Kina Malafu arrived at Kutztown as a raw rugby talent. With determination and his God-given talent, he has become one of the most prolific runners in our club’s history.”
Vekekina Malafu Comments to Austin Elite Rugby
“Kina’s speed and work ethic are an asset to Austin Elite Rugby,” says Thierry Daupin, General Manager.
Of his signing, Kina says, “I’m simply privileged to continue playing rugby professionally with Austin Elite where I believe I can up my game to its peak performance.”
Austin Elite Rugby Signings
- Alain Hyardet – Head Coach
- Rick Medina – Corporate Sales Manager
- Peter Malcolm – Hooker
- Zinzan Elan-Puttick – Fullback
- Sione Fangaihuia – Center
- Vetekina Malafu – Wing
- Michael Reid – Scrumhalf
- Mason Pedersen – Loosehead Prop
- Zac Mizell – Flyhalf, Utility Back