Welsh remember the day Wales and Tonga went to war  in Nukuʻalofa

    It is just over three decades since the Tongan and Welsh rugby teams first met, but memories of that match are still strong in Wales.

    With news that the two teams will meet in Auckland in June, the Welsh  media has been quoting excerpts from former Welsh rugby player Robert Jones’  2001 book Raising the Dragon.

    Jones, now a rugby union coach, was capped 54 times for Wales during his career.

    Wales and Tonga met at Nuku’alofa on June 12, 1986.

    According to Jones’ account the Welsh team was unprepared for the poverty of the kingdom or of the level of facilities they were using.

    Some parts of the Welsh media have singled out Tongan player Tevita Bloomfioeld for attention.

    Bloomfield, who died in Utah in 2016, made his debut for ʻIkale Tahi against New Zealand Maori in 1973.

    The clash with Wales was to be his last game.

    A mass brawl erupted early in the game after Pontypool flanker Mark Brown was flattened by three Tongan forwards.

    Almost all the players were involved and Jones described Bloomfield taking on several Welsh players.

    “Stuart Evans, Billy James and Adrian Hadley, all hard men, were down, and Adrian was out cold,” Jones wrote.

    “He then started chasing Bleddyn Bowen, who ran for cover into the crowd, and they threw him out!”

    Robert Jones describes the event as “the worst brawl I have ever seen on a rugby field.”

    The fight was brought under control and Wales went on to win 15-7.

    At the post game dinner that night the Welsh team was invited to say a few words in Welsh.

    Knowing his hosts did not speak Welsh, the team’s spokesman, Jonathan Davies, used the opportunity to get some of his own back on the hosts for the violence of the afternoon’s game.

    As the Tongans smiled politely, he said (among other things): “This is the worst place I have ever been to. I am delighted to be leaving and never want to come here again. You are the dirtiest team I have ever played against.”

    The 2017 game

    Wales will meet Tonga in Auckland after the World Rugby Union said it was worried about the readiness of Tonga’s Teufaiva Sport Stadium on June16.

    The WRU was also concerned about the availability of medical cover if a player was seriously injured.

    The match will take place the day before the British and Irish Lions play New Zealand Maori in Rotorua, while Wales’ game in Samoa will go ahead as planned in Apia on 24 June.

    The main points

    • It is just over three decades since the Tongan and Welsh rugby teams first met, but memories of that match are still strong in Wales.
    • With news that the two teams will meet in Auckland in June, the Welsh media has been quoting excerpts from former Welsh rugby player Robert Jones’  2001 book Raising the Dragon.
    • A mass brawl erupted early in the game which involved almost all the players.
    • Once the fight was brought under control Wales went on to win 15-7.

    For more information

    The day Welsh rugby’s hardest men were floored by a brutal Tongan prop who chased one of them into the crowd

    The Head Hunters: Tongan rugby

    Tonga v Wales: June Test to be played in Auckland

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