LONDON (AP) — England is giving Tonga money and offering coaching help for their rugby test in November at Twickenham.
Tonga was due to visit last November but the match was canceled in the pandemic.
England announced the new match on Tuesday, completing its autumn schedule. Tonga is first up on Nov. 6, followed by Australia on Nov. 13 and world champion South Africa on Nov. 20.
Twickenham is expected to be able to sell tickets for every seat. That, and England’s failure to ever visit Tonga and help the poorer Pacific Island nations has prompted the Rugby Football Union to give the team an undisclosed donation as “a good will gesture.”
Also, “the RFU is working with World Rugby and Tonga Rugby to make coaching and other resource personnel available to Tonga, which they hope will have a dual benefit of providing support to the Tongan team while also offering some good experience for the resource personnel involved.”
England and Tonga have met only three times previously, all at Rugby World Cups. The only Twickenham match was the first, in 1999, when England beat a 14-man Tonga 101-10.
This month, a depleted Tonga side without its overseas stars lost to New Zealand 102-0 and to Samoa twice in World Cup qualifiers.