The government had been drafting Bills in a bid to settle down the long-running dispute within Tonga Rugby League and the International Rugby League (IRL) was made aware of what the government had been doing, Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa told Kaniva News during an exclusive interview on Friday.
“I hope after Covid-19 we have a good talk about the Sport. And we have contacted IRL on that and IRL understands the government’s intention,” the Prime Minister said.
In Tongan he said: “Ka oku mau lolotonga ngaue pe kimautolu ‘i he Pule’anga ki he Lao Sipoti oku mau tui te ne fakasi’isi’i a e ngaahi fakavaha’avaha’a i he Sipoti a Tonga, o kau ai a e Rugby League… Ko u tui ko e osi a e Covid-19, kuo tau talanoa lelei he Sipoti. Pea na’a mau fetu’utaki pe ki he IRL ‘i he ‘uhinga koia, pea oku mahino pe ki he IRL a e taumu’a a e Pule’anga.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Internal Affairs Vatau Hui has vehemently denied allegations on Facebook that he has announced the government has set up another new Rugby League Board of its own and proposed it to the IRL.
Hon Hui echoed what the Prime Minister has said saying the government had been working to resolve the issues which have affected the sport for years.
The IRL has expelled the Tonga National Rugby League – which was suspended last October – from membership.
However, IRL later supported processing a new application to reinstate Tonga’s membership.
“As a part of the organisation’s proposed new governance structure, player representation on the board has been introduced and current international player Will Hopoate and former Tonga captain Sika Manu have been elected by the national team squad to take up those positions,” RIF reports.
Will Hopoate stating “I am excited and grateful to be a part of the new Tonga Rugby League board and striving to help the Tongan National team progress as well as building Rugby League in Tonga.”
Sika Manu added “I’m very honoured to be part of the new Tongan Rugby League board and excited to help with the progression of the Tongan Rugby League team and also the development of Rugby League in Tonga.”
IRL Global Operations Manager Danny Kazandjian has welcomed the progress saying;
“The Implementation Committee (IC) has worked diligently and continues to support TMTRL to develop their organisation and to complete their application.
“IRL CEO Nigel Wood has also been in contact with Prime Minister, Hon Pohiva Tu’ionetoa, and IRL would like to thank him and his government for their support and encouragement of this process. The government has committed to working closely with IRL to see the restoration of Tonga to the international rugby league community.
“Despite the world-wide constraints due to COVID-19 we are confident that the implementation committee will be able to conclude this process quickly and the new board representing the whole Tongan rugby League community will take up its position and submit their application for membership of International Rugby League.
“We look forward to seeing rugby league being played in the kingdom and the Tongan national team back in action as soon as circumstances permit.”