Tom Tomaney, assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), is lifted by the Nabua Broncos rugby team after a scrimmage during Pacific Partnership 2015. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Mark El-Rayes)

SUVA, Fiji - U.S. Sailors and merchant marines from the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) participated in a rugby clinic with the Fiji Nabua Broncos national rugby team in Suva, Fiji, June 9.

The scrimmage was part of Pacific Partnership 2015, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“I think it’s important with these ports that we go to these engagements and see how they live and how they do things,” said Marcus Montaine, a Military Sealift Command cadet assigned to Mercy.“They welcomed us with open arms. They were a lot better than us, but it was a lot of fun.”

The Americans warmed up, ran rugby drills, and played a touch version of rugby with the Nabua Broncos. The U.S. team was presented with a traditional “Haka,” a synchronized cheer aimed at intimidating the other team, performed by the Broncos. The U.S. team followed with a Haka of their own.

At the end of the event, the American and Fijian players swapped jerseys and boots. The Broncos were slated to tour the hospital ship the following day, and invited the U.S. team to a traditional Fijian barbeque style dinner.

“They were very friendly throughout the whole game, and I look forward to meeting them again for dinner. It was a good day to play some rugby,” said Montaine.

See more photos in the U.S. Pacific Fleet Flickr stream.

Mercy is currently in Suva for its first mission port of PP15. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions to date have provided real world medical care to approximately 270,00 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,999 animals. Additionally, the mission has provided critical infrastructure development to host nations through more than 180 engineering projects.