Tonga NRL expulsion confirmed

This story was originally published on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

The explusion of Tonga’s NRL has been confirmed by the International Rugby League, IRL, after a Special General Meeting last week.

In February the IRL board made the decision to kick the TNRL out of the world body after a long-running battle over governance, money and a threatened player boycott.

The TNRL had been suspended since October 2019, after it sacked national coach Kristian Woolf over disagreements around control and finances, which led players to threaten a boycott of the World Cup 9s and end of season tests.

During last week’s meeting the full member countries of the IRL confirmed the previous board decision to expel the TNRL by a vote of nine to five.

The TNRL had appealed the original decision and in a statement the IRL said the Tongan body had presented their case to the various members.

Country representatives heard and were able to question testimony from TNRL and from IRL investigators before taking part in a vote on whether the expulsion should stand.

The IRL said it now expected an application for membership to be received from the Tongan rugby league community, indicating a new governing body would be welcomed back into the fold.

Members of the TNRL had previously stated they were willing to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if their expelled status continued.

Tonga’s next match was scheduled in June against New Zealand but that had now been postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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