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Locked-out Tonga Rugby Union members protest “unconstitutional” AGM

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Siaosi Pohiva, November 2019.

Some members of the Board of the Tonga Rugby Union Inc. and elected representatives from 28 Rugby Clubs in Tongatapu are now complaining that they were not allowed to participate in the Annual General Meeting and the presidential election last month.

Even the ‘Ikale Tahi RWC team Coach Toutai Kefu, says he was prevented from making a presentation at the meeting held under tight security at a hall in Longolongo on December 20.

The controversial meeting of the TRU elected a new President, Siaosi Pohiva, to succeed his father the late Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Tonga’s former Prime Minister, who died in August.

The Annual General Meeting - called by the Chairman Fe‘ao Vunipola, as the CEO and Treasurer of the TRU - named Siaosi as the new President.


But members who felt they had a Constitutional right to be at the meeting have complained that security at the door to the hall were selective in allowing entry.

Among those who were not allowed into the hall were ‘Aisea ‘Aholelei, a representative of the Kolomotu‘a Rugby Club, who was a current member of the Board of Directors of the TRU, and Manu Mataele, the president of the Tongatapu Rugby Committee, which is a member of the TRU.

‘Aisea was convinced that the meeting was unconstitutional, “by not allowing 28 elected representatives from Rugby Clubs in Tongatapu to participate in the annual meeting, but he [the Chair] allowed in representatives from Tongatapu and from the outer islands that we did not know nor have ever heard of before.”

‘Aisea pointed out that during the past four years they had not seen a Financial Report of the Tonga Rugby Union, from its Treasurer who is also the chairman.

'Aisea said that Fe'ao Vuniola, his brother Manu Vunipola and Siaosi Pohiva were all members of the Tavatu'utolu Rugby Club.

Following the Tonga Rugby Union Annual General Meeting Fe‘ao Vunipola left Tonga for the United Kingdom, where his family lives.

Matangi Tonga Online tried to contact the office of the Tonga Rugby Union for comment on the claims but there was no response.

Coach disappointed

Toutai Kefu, Coach of the ‘Ikale Tahi, came to Tonga from Australia for the AGM, prepared to report on the outcome of the participation of the National rugby team in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Yes, that's true I turned up to the AGM to present on the RWC on the advice of World Rugby,” he told Matangi Tonga. “Initially, I wasn’t allowed in, then I finally got in, then I wasn't allowed to present. I then left,” he stated.

“From what I can gather the whole meeting wasn’t constitutional, because not all voters were present? Also there were no financials presented.

“I think there is a fair bit of confusion and frustration at the moment regarding the TRU and the ‘Ikale Tahi.”

Toutai expressed his disappointment that he did not have the opportunity to report on the participation of the ‘Ikale Tahi in Japan, but he was very optimistic on what he and the ‘Ikale Tahi could achieve in the New Year.

“Yes, it’s true, I would like to keep my job and coach the ‘Ikale Tahi through to the next RWC in France. I suppose once everyone gets back from holidays, things will be clearer,” he said.

Attending the AGM only as observers, were the Minister of Police, Lord Nuku; the Minister of Educatiion, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni; Dr 'Ungatea Kata, and Takitoa Taumoepeau from the Tonga Amateur Sports Association.