The Tonga Sports Council (TSC) is pleased to acknowledge the announcement of the Tonga Invitational XIII named for the Oceania Cup and GBRL Lions Tour.
An independent third party has accepted an invitation from GB Oceania Limited to field a team through a Participation Agreement contract. Tonga Sports Council, Tonga National Rugby League nor Tonga Ma’a Tonga Rugby League are not party to this contract.
As announced by the organizers of the Oceania Cup and GB RL Lions Tour the TSC joins the Tongan rugby league fans in wishing well the squad consisting of the best team that Tonga can field to compete against the world’s best.
John Asiata, Andrew Fifita, Addin Fonua-Blake, David Fusitu’a, Siliva Havili,
Ata Hingano, William Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell, Michael Jennings, Sione Katoa, Tuimoala Lolohea Manu Ma’u, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai jnr, Kotoni Staggs, Tevita Tatola, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Jason Taumalolo, Daniel Tupou, Sitili Tupouniua Coach: Kristian Woolf
The crisis in the Tongan rugby league community, precipitated by the dismissal of the Mate Ma’a Tonga (MMT) coach, Kristian Woolf by the Board of Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) was not only a major concern to the TSC but to the broader Tongan public and international rugby league community.
The basis of this dismissal was largely due to allegations made against the Coach by the Board of TNRL. The validity of the allegations has not been tested in court for a determination by a Judge. The validity of counter allegations the Coach and the management group of the MMT team against George Kolomatangi and William Edwards too have not been tested in court.
The bulk of the MMT team declared that they would not play in a team that was not coached by Kristian Woolf.
This group also demanded that George Kolomatangi and William Edwards stand down from their involvement on the Board of TNRL. The playing group determined they would no longer play for Tonga if these conditions are not met through an appropriate AGM.
The resulting fracture in the rugby league community in Tonga created an ongoing legal battle which threatened to ensure the best possible Tongan team competing in the Oceania Cup and GB RL Lions Tour.
The TNRL has had its membership to the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) suspended pending an investigation which unsettles Tonga’s international position for future representative fixtures including the 2021 RLWC.
The late Prime Minister of Tonga as well as the former Acting Prime Minister issued the Government of Tonga’s support to the players due to their actions in the previous Rugby League World Cup placing Tonga in an unprecedented position internationally – not only in the sport of rugby league but more widely. The obvious outpouring of national pride as a consequence was and is of national significance.
The TSC is always willing to support sport federations develop their sport for the betterment of athletes and the broader community and will support the rugby league community address their current dilemma if called upon.
TONGA XIII MATCHES – GB RUGBY LEAGUE LIONS TOUR & OCEANIA CUP 2019
26 October – FMG Stadium Waikato Tonga XIII v Great Britain Rugby League Lions
2 November – Eden Park Triple Header Auckland Tonga XIII v Australia