Bitter end for ‘Ikaletahi sponsorship plan as  Auckland company pulls out of rugby deal   

    A deal with a New Zealand car dealership to sponsor Tonga’s national rugby team has collapsed after the team’s marketing manager apparently demanded more money.

    The Tongan sales manager at Henderson Cars in South Auckland, Vaʻa Taliaʻuli, said his company would no longer sponsor the ‘Ikaletahi team.

    The sponsorship also involved a plan for the Siutaka rugby team in New Zealand to join the Aoniu tournament in Tonga next month so their players would have a chance to be selected for the ‘Ikaletahi squad.

    However, that plan has now come to nothing.

    Talia’uli said the dealership received a telephone call last week from a person who identified himself as Siaosi Faka’osi, the marketing manager for ‘Ikaletahi.

    Talia’uli said Faka’osi wanted Henderson Cars to pay more sponsorship money, otherwise the ‘Ikaletahi would give the opportunity to another car dealership which, it was claimed, had offered more money.

    Talia’uli said he then suggested Henderson Cars could provide $20,000 to sponsor a tournament for the rugby sevens and pay for all costs such as venues but Fakaʻosi did not accept it.

    “It reached the point where I hung up the phone,” Talia’uli said.

    Talia’uli, who is the vice president of the Siutaka club, said they had also received reliable information that the squad for the ‘Ikaletahi’s upcoming games had already been selected.

    He said he thought Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva, who was aware of the original discussions, did not know what Faka’osi had done.

    Talia’uli said he was surprised that this had happened as they had met with Hon. Pohiva about the sponsorship and he was happy with the arrangement.

    He said they had also met with TRU Chair Fe’ao Vunipola, who also agreed with the sponsorship.

    Vunipola told Kaniva News he regretted what had happened.

    He said it was unfortunate this had happened as it was important to obtain sponsors for the ‘Ikaletahi.

    “I want to apologise to the manager of Henderson Cars for what had happened,” Vunipola said.

    He said the incident had not been reported to the TRU.

    He said he would investigate what was actually happened before releasing a formal reply.

    ‘Ikaletahi squad

    Vunipola said the information that the ‘Ikaletahi squad had been selected was not true.

    He said a “possible touring squad” had been selected, but the real team would be selected on September 30.

    He said the TRU reviewed the possible composition of the team from time to time.

    He did not say anything about the information given to Kaniva News that the Siutaka had withdrawn from the Aoniu tournament which was supposed to run from September 9 – 17 in Tonga.

    Vunipola said work had been undertaken to enable a working partnership between the TRU, New Zealand Siutaka and the Australia Aoniu rugby.

    Fakaʻosi could not be reached for comment.

    The main points

    • A deal with a New Zealand car dealership to sponsor Tonga’s national rugby team has collapsed after the team’s marketing manager apparently demanded more money.
    • The Tongan sales manager at Henderson Cars in South Auckland, Va’a Talia’uli, said his company would no longer sponsor the ‘Ikaletahi team.
    • The sponsorship involved a plan for the Siutaka rugby team in New Zealand to join the Aoniu tournament in Tonga next month so their players would have a chance to be selected for the ‘Ikaletahi squad.
    • That plan also appears to have come to nothing.

    For more information

    Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva criticized over not visiting Tongan victims in Katikati

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