Wales Test moved out of Tonga

Date published: February 17 2017

Doubts over readiness of national stadium mean the Test match will now take place at an alternative location in June while the Samoa v Wales game will go ahead in Apia as planned.

It has been confirmed by World Rugby that the Tonga v Wales match, scheduled for June 17 in Nuku’alofa will have to be relocated to another country.

The difficult decision to move the match was made after it was confirmed that ground works in relation to the redevelopment of the national stadium in Nuku’alofa were running behind schedule, with the result that the pitch may not be fit for purpose in time. 

Given the significant logistics involved in hosting an international touring test team, it was agreed by all parties that it would be prudent to move forward with alternative venue arrangements to ensure that the test match could still take place in June at an appropriate facility.

Discussions are taking place with alternative venues to host the match on the same weekend in June.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby shares in Tonga’s disappointment that this match will be moved given the huge effort made by the TRU to date but the decision was jointly agreed by the WRU and World Rugby with the objective of ensuring that the fixture can go ahead albeit in a different location. 

“We are working with our friends at the Tonga Rugby Union to deliver a match venue befitting of such an occasion and we remain committed to supporting the union with future test match hosting opportunities. 

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies said: “Everyone involved in the planning for this tour wanted the game to be hosted in Tonga and this is the reason we have delayed before confirming the fixture.  

“The Tongan Rugby Union should be commended for their efforts in relation to the redevelopment of their national stadium but unfortunately time has proved to be against us all and, although difficult, it is the right decision to move the game.”

As part of the same tour, Wales will play Samoa in Apia on June 24.

Combined with Italy and Scotland playing test matches in Fiji in June, Fiji playing Australia in Melbourne and the Oceania Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification fixtures in July, the Pacific Island teams will have a strong schedule of international test matches in June/July of this year. 

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