Deal reached in Tonga rugby union concerns

Tonga's Rugby Union and the Tongan government have agreed to a package of reforms designed to address ongoing governance concerns within the union.

RNZI reports the agreement followed a series of meetings in Nuku'alofa which set out to deliver an equitable solution regarding a number of unresolved administration and governance issues, the union's debt and outstanding legal cases.

World Rugby Chairman of the Rugby Committee, John Jeffrey, who attended the meetings, said the support package is a reflection of its collective commitment to rugby in Tonga, and World Rugby's ongoing support of rugby in the Pacific.

"This collaboration and investment will provide an environment to further grassroots development for the wider rugby family in Tonga, while strengthening the high performance environment that provides a dedicated pathway for local players to represent Tonga on the international stage," he said.

The agreed strategies include:

*Establishment of a 10-year tripartite funding agreement, encompassing all annual World Rugby, government and TRU funding, committed to the growth of rugby in Tonga in line with good governance criteria

*Establishment of a joint management committee - comprising representatives of World Rugby, Tongan government and the TRU to oversee all aspects of the TRU high-performance programme

*The re-establishment of the Tonga National Rugby Academy to include world-class player pathways and player welfare programmes to provide locally based players with a clear pathway to national team selection

*A restructure of the World Rugby development investment programme to facilitate the re-invigoration of competitions in the outer islands, including 'Eua, Ha'apai and Vavau.