‘Ikale Tahi team “have done exceedingly well”

by 'Emeline Tuita, CEO Tonga Rugby Union

On the win today (18-9) against the USA, I would like to congratulate Captain Nili Latu and his team for a great performance on field. I know it was a disappointment for the USA as the host, but from the support from the Tongan Community in the US, it would also have seemed like the 'Ikaletahi was playing in a home game also.

On the performance of the 'Ikaletahi so far on the 2013 PNC Tournament, I would have to say that under the circumstances they have done exceedingly well. Their opening of the PNC wth the win in the match against Japan lifted spirits very high and on this note they arrived in San Francisco to a very warm "homecoming" thanks to the efforts in particular of the TUSF and Tongans in the Bay Area and from around the USA.

The overall USA part of the tournament was a success both on-field and off-field although it is regretted that there was an injury at the SFGG game on June 3rd. The Canada game which Tonga yielded to Canada was disappointing from the view that it could perhaps have had a different outcome, rather than the team having to bear the consequences of undisciplined play on-field which saw three players sit out the USA game.

As you know also, as part of acting responsibly to the press and in respect to the standards that have been set for making statements to the press, the 'Ikaletahi Coach has publicly apologised to the International Rugby Board and the Officiating Match Officials. The President of the TRU, 'Epeli Taione and the Tonga Rugby Union have also publicly apologised for any adverse impact that the statement may have. Hopefully as the team moves on to Japan for their final game against Fiji, we can take some of the hard lessons of the tour so far and use it to provide the global Tongan community with a finale performance in Japan.

I am well aware that it is a rather difficult period that the Tonga Rugby Union is going through at present and this has not made preparations for this PNC Tour easy for the 'Ikaletahi Team. As things stand at present, the governance issues are likely to be resolved late next week, which means that it is remarkable that the 'Ikaletahi Team has been able to maintain their composure in the manner they have. And I must say that without the support of the Tongans in the United States who expressed their keenness to help back in March, the success of the 'Ikaletahi would not have been so pronounced.

Thank you also for the positive coverage that Kaniva has made to following the PNC Tour because it has been important to the morale of the 'Ikaletahi Team so that matters on the home front, which sometime can take a bit longer to resolve do not adversely affect performance on field. The TRU Staff in Tonga and the President have over the past weeks been working tirelessly toward implementing strategies that can create financial stability for the Union and allow TRU to focus going forward on providing the necessary support for a consistent high performance at the international level by the 'Ikaletahi. A key Tour is the November Tour when the 'Ikaletahi is scheduled to play against France and Wales, and the PNC Tour this year had made participation in the 'Ikaletahi Team so much more meaningful.

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