Tonga women's rugby team welcome World Cup lifeline

The Tonga women's rugby team are welcoming their World Cup lifeline, after being withdrawn from the Oceania Championship after the team was quarantined for measles.

The decision to remove the kingdom from the tournament was made after they were forced into quarantine for 18 days, with the team scheduled to be relieved of isolation next week.

Tonga's opening match against Australia A was cancelled and declared a draw, with Papua New Guinea and Fiji winning their other scheduled matches by default.

World Rugby announced a revised World Cup qualification process at the weekend, with the kingdom to play Papua New Guinea in the new year for the right to face the loser of Saturday's Oceania qualifying final between Fiji and Samoa.

The second placed team will advance to a final World Cup repechage tournament next year.

"Given the very unfortunate circumstances with Tonga being withdrawn from the tournament, World Rugby has granted a reprieve in a sense that Tonga will have another opportunity," said Oceania Rugby competitions manager Wayne Schuster.

"Therefore the repechage position will be contested again in 2020 by the runner-up of the match [between Fiji and Samoa] and the third placed [team], which is Papua New Guinea, and of course Tonga, so that's great news for Tonga."

Vice Chair of the Tonga Women's Rugby Union, Fehoka Tuivai, said team spirits were still down but it was good to share some more positive news with the players who were still in isolation.

"They obviously were sad with the decision [to withdraw] but at the same time they are happy that they've been given another opportunity for the qualification so they think that they will prepare more for that opportunity," she said.

Despite the set-back, Tuivai said the team had still been keeping a close eye on other countries competing in the Oceania competition.

"The have the opportunity to watch it on local TV and also they keep training while they're there in Fiji. They have a lot of space there at the hotel to do their normal training routine," she said.