State of the Nation: Tonga

Date published: July 2 2016

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With the June internationals now done and dusted, we take a look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Tonga.

The island nation's rugby is in disripute by their own standards. As a traditionally strong rugby nation, recently they seem to be getting overlapped by other international teams that were once considered minnows. The June series was a catastrophe for the 'Ikale Tahi and it was evident of a union no longer holding its weight.

World Rugby made sure the organisation of the series complied with an iniative they are developing to raise the level of the game amongst the smaller nations. So Scotland travelled to Japan, Georgia travelled to the Pacific Isles and Tonga would play the visitors as well as against Samoa and Fiji.

Tonga were defeated in all three games during the series. Their first loss came at the hands of their Australasian neighbours Fiji, 23-18 in Suva. The hosts came back from being down 15-0. Tonga scored first through number nine Sonatane Takulua who kicked over a penalty. After Pila Iongi scored two tries shortly after each other. Tonga then proceeded to allow three unanswered tries to go past them.

Tonga then took on the Georgians in Suva. The Lelos, who seem to have the Tongans' number now after the Eastern Europeans shocked them in the World Cup last year, just pipped them 23-20. The visitors scored after the 80th minute to claim the victory.

Samoa then put 30 points past them at Apia Park, the game ended 30-10. The Tongans discipline let them down when they condeded a penalty try and they did not demonstrate a potent enough attack to pierce the Samoan defence for most of the second-half, even when Samoa had a man off with a yellow card. They were lucky to score through Danny Tusitala when a Samoa player knocked the ball on, which Tusitala picked up and ran for the line.

Earlier this year World Rugby had to step in to make sure Tonga governs their union better. They eventually came to an agreement on how World Rugby will assist Tonga in the future. They agreed that they would help the nation's rugby union with funding as long as the administration meets World Rugby's standards of governance. The Tonga National Rugby Academy had to be re-established and the World Rugby development investment programme was restructured to facilitate the re-invigoration of competitions in the outer islands, including 'Eua, Ha'apai and Vavau.

World Rugby Chairman of the Rugby Committee, John Jeffrey, who attended the meetings, said: "We are committed to working with the Tongan government and union to address the apparent issues and this prudent support package is a reflection of our collective commitment to rugby in Tonga and World Rugby's ongoing support of rugby in the Pacific Islands.

"This collaboration and investment will provide an environment to further grassroots development for the wider rugby family in Tonga, while strengthening the high performance environment that provides a dedicated pathway for local players to represent Tonga on the international stage.

"Good governance is central to World Rugby membership and World Rugby remains committed to rugby in Tonga and supporting a robust and sustainable administrative and governance framework within the union that will enable the union to prosper on and off the field of play."

Hopefully with the involvement of an external insitition the nation can get back to their former glory. 

Read the rest of our State of the Nation pieces following the June Tests right here.

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