Guests at a wedding celebration in Sydney erupted in cheering and dancing on Saturday as Tonga Invitational XIII rugby league team triumphed 16-12 over Australia in their final match in Auckland.
The victory was certainly a celebration for all Tongan fans and supporters. But the Kau To’a, as the invitational team was also known in Tongan, have become more than just a Tongan team, with people across New Zealand celebrating the first tier two team to have beaten world’s best.
It was also the first time the Kangaroos have been beaten by anybody except New Zealand or the UK since succumbing to France in 1978.
The historical triumph has also silenced the critics after some Tongans led by Tonga National Rugby League interim board have dismissed the Invitational side as a palagi team established by the palagi authorities at the Rugby League International.
They also said the Tongan players were born in New Zealand and Australia like Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo.
Because of the bitter dispute that has wracked rugby league in Tonga, the Tonga team played under the banner of Tongan invitation XIII, not the Mate Ma’a, a solution brokered by the international rugby league authorities.
Majority of people who spoke to Kaniva news said they still supported the Tongan team and rejected the interim board and what they saw as its attempts to discredit the Tongan players