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Tonga National Rugby League board suspended by international body

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Jason Taumalolo training in Nuku'alofa with Coach Kristian Woolf in the background, prior to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. 13 October 2017.

The Tonga National Rugby League Board (TNRL) was suspended by the Rugby League International Federation Board (RLIF) in a decision made last night, 26 September. As a result, Australia’s NRL announced they would withdraw an invitation for a TNRL team to play in the World Cup 9s to be held in October.

The TNRL have been in a dispute with Mate Ma’a Tonga players after letting go their coach Kristian Woolf, earlier this month, with players threatening to boycott games unless a new board was established.

In addition, Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Semisi Sika, wrote to the RLIF board earlier this week, informing them that the government, local rugby league clubs, and representative players, no longer supported TNRL.

Sika also requested the RLIF to support a new governing body already established in Tonga, called the "Tonga Ma’a Tonga Rugby League Incorporated".

According to the, the National Rugby League (NRL) was withdrawing an invitation for a Tongan team to play in the World Cup 9s to be held in October.

As a result, NRL and the RLIF will work to provide another opportunity for a Tongan team to play in the World Cup 9s under a different governing body.

Star players

This means star Mate Ma’a Tonga players such as Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo may now make themselves available to play, with Kristian Woolf likely to be back at the helm.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said they wanted the best Tongan team playing in the World 9s.

“It is clear the current board does not have the support of its national government or its best players. 

"We are working with the RLIF to recognise an alternate structure that provides an opportunity for Tonga to field its best team. We support Tonga's NRL players and want to see them representing their great rugby league nation," he said.

Australian Rugby League Chairman, Peter Beattie said it was untenable for a national administration that did not have the support of its government or players to continue.

“I'm looking forward to an interim board being established so we can have Tonga's best players on the park and the best international competition possible."

Mate Ma'a Tonga are scheduled to play Great Britain and Australia at the end of the year.