The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Board today notified the Tongan National Rugby League (TNRL) that it has been suspended from membership of the RLIF pending a full investigation into issues raised by various parties.
The unanimous decision was made after the Acting Tongan Prime Minister advised the RLIF that TNRL had lost the trust and support of its members, clubs and players.
The RLIF received expressions of concern about Tonga National Rugby League from other full members, the Rugby Football League and the Australian Rugby League Commission.
In addition, Australia’s Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) has also provided the RLIF with a list of Tonga’s highest profile players who have indicated they will not make themselves available to play for Tonga under the current administration.
The RLIF Board recognised that it needed to weigh the rights and entitlement of membership against its wider primary obligations to foster, develop, promulgate, govern and administer the game of rugby league throughout the world. Based upon the volume and magnitude of representations received the Board decided that it needed to intervene immediately.
The RLIF will work with the Tongan government and key stakeholders to create an interim arrangement.
RLIF Chairman, Graeme Thompson commented:
“The RLIF has received representations and concerns from the Office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tongan Sports Council, the RFL, the ARLC, the RLPA on behalf of leading players and from concerned groups in the Kingdom of Tonga.
“In view of the considerable evidence that the interests of international rugby league were not being best served at this time. The RLIF Board voted unanimously that the TNRL’s membership be suspended with immediate effect while these matters are properly investigated. The RLIF, at the request of the Tongan government will work with the Tongan Sports Council to ensure that the forthcoming international calendar is not undermined.
“The RLIF stresses that the suspension of TNRL is not an expulsion and is intended to provide a period of stability, while the matters raised by the various stakeholders can be properly and fully investigated.
“We now call on all parties to cooperate fully with the process to ensure a swift resolution.”
The RLIF will provide a further update next week.