Tongan Rugby Union has no money to pay its players an allowance, it was claimed this week.

    With Tongan team ‘Ikale Tahi playing its final game in the PNC tomorrow June 23, coach Mana ‘Otai and team members have appealed to the public for help.

    ‘Emeline Tuita, who is CEO of one of two rival bodies that claim to represent Tongan Rugby Union, said players who were invited to represent ‘Ikale Tahi were told  in writing there was no guarantee they would be given allowances.

    Tuita said players would still be paid by their clubs and the allowance was to show appreciation for their willingness to play for ‘Ikale Tahi.

    Coach ‘Otai said earlier this week there was no sign the players would be financially rewarded.

    He said the TRU normally pays a weekly allowance of TOP$1000 for Ikale Tahi team members.

    ‘Ikale Tahi captain Nili Latu told Kaniva News it was not morally fair for the TRU to not pay the team’s allowance. Tongan-based players and some in New Zealand who did not play for clubs would suffer financially.

    Latu said his captainship is heavily affected by upheavals within Tongan rugby.

    He said the team did its best for Tonga, but the infighting at the TRU was a headache.

    The TRU split in April after five years of turmoil during which five chief executive officers and four presidents were sacked.

    Tuita and president ‘Epeli Taione were dismissed by the current board in April.

    Since then there have been two separate TRU committees, each of which claims rights to  ‘Ikale Tahi.

    The sponsors including the government wanted TRU to sort out its dispute first before they step in and give assistance, Tuita said. 

    It is my job, but I have to stay here in the office and to make sure things are in place from our end as it is really difficult to handle things here, Tuita said.

    TRU had no part in the fundraising appeal by the coach and team members. They do what they did in USA. They had fundraisings with the help of Tongans there and the money raised went straight to the team, Tuita said.

    Coach ‘Otai said all donations and donors names and the amount donated would be publicly announced.

    Otai and two so far un-named team members will act as trustee and signatories for the moneys raised.

    Public reaction to the situation has been one of outrage.

    Tongan Paula Latu posted on the Kaniva site asking: Why is Tongan rugby in a mess and chaotic. Do we have the capacity to organise rugby in this country.

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