Tonga rugby

‘Tonga will welcome back Israel Folau’ – Aleki Lutui

The disgraced former Wallaby was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting homophobic comments in an Instagram post in 2019.

Folau then fought a significant legal battle with the governing body, which was eventually settled in December of that year.

In 2020, he returned to rugby league – the sport where his professional career began – and signed a deal with Catalan Dragons.

The 32-year-old was released from his contract in 2021 and returned to Australia, citing ‘personal reasons’, but has since joined Japanese rugby union outfit Shining Arcs.

Tonga rugby player Taniela Moa passes way

The kingdom’s rugby union announced Moa’s passing away on its official Facebook page a short time ago.  

“A stalwart of Ikale Tahi Tonga rugby who will now have his named etched among the echelons of the legendary greats. Such sad news to receive about the passing of Taniela Moa.”

“We would like to send our love and deepest condolences to his family through this sad and tragic time. May he fly high among God’s army and look over you all.”

Moa was playing for the French rugby club Section Paloise.

'I'll put my hand up for Tonga': Ngani Laumape eyes test rugby switch

The prospect of Laumape turning out for the ‘Ikale Tahi has been made possible by World Rugby after the game’s global governing body voted for a law change last month that enables test-capped players to represent a second country they are eligible for through birthright following a three-year stand down period.

That change in ruling, which comes into effect in January, means Laumape will become eligible for Tonga, his parents’ homeland, in 2023 – provided he doesn’t make an international comeback with New Zealand before then.

New rules could see Israel Folau's international return with Tonga

The world governing body approved a major amendment to their eligibility policy on Wednesday which will allow players to switch countries more easily from next January.

It looks set to pave the path for the likes of Folau, one of the Wallabies’ most outstanding backs who was sacked by Australia over homophobic social media posts, to launch a second international career thanks to his Tongan heritage.

And the move could prove a huge boon for developing rugby nations – particularly the Pacific Island sides Tonga, Samoa and Fiji – in time for the 2023 World Cup in France.

Charles Piutau confirms intention to switch nationality to represent Tonga

Piutau, who was born in Auckland and won 17 caps for the All Blacks, is a high-profile beneficiary of a major change to rugby union's international eligibility rules.

And the Bristol back hopes it starts a revolution in Pacific Island rugby.

"I'm really happy for the Pacific nations," Piutau said.

The 30-year-old told the BBC's Sports Desk podcast: "It's not the answer to everything - it's just the start.

Tonga make five changes side facing Romania

Winger Latu Latunipulu will make his test debut on the right wing, after playing 30 minutes off the bench against the French Barbarians.

Walter Fifta will start in fullback, with Navarre Haisila dropping to the bench.

There are three changes up front. Dan Faleafa replaces Setefano Funaki in the second row, Onehunga Havili comes in for Tanginoa Halaifonua on the blindside flank and Fotu Lokotui starts at number eight in place of Lopeti Timani.

Tonga makes changes to side to take on French Barbarians

Siua Maile will start at hooker, with Paula Ngauamo dropping to the bench.

Setofano Funaki will be coming in at lock, with Tanginoa Halaifonua shifting to the blindside flank and Lopeti Timani moving to number eight.

James Faiva will direct proceedings from first five, with Vaea Vaea getting the nod at 12, pushing Afusipa Taumoepeau to centre.

Bourg-en-Bresse winger Latu Latunipulu is also poised to make his international debut off the bench.

‘We’d welcome him with open arms’: Folau ‘keen’ on remarkable Rugby World Cup comeback

The World Rugby Council will meet on November 24 to vote on a proposal to allow players to represent a second nation.

World Rugby officials want Pacific island nations to be strengthened by being able to pick homegrown players who have made their Test debuts for other countries.

Folau has not played rugby union since he was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 following a controversial social media post.

The 32-year-old played for French rugby league outfit the Catalans last year but is on the cusp of a union comeback in Japanese rugby.

Tonga names new caps in squad to face England

Wallabies international Lopeti Timani is one of the trio selected.

The other two are Tonga rugby league international- Solomone Kata and Perpignan midfielder, Afusipa Taumoepeau.

Kata will start in the left wing and Taumoepau gets the nod at second five eighth.

Timani and Taumoepeau - a former Australian sevens international - both qualified to represent the 'Ikale Tahi after playing for the kingdom at the Olympic sevens repechage tournament in June.

World Rugby to vote on eligibility rule change which could see Charles Piutau represent Tonga

Tonga face England at Twickenham on Saturday missing around 20 players because of travel restrictions while dozens more of Tongan born or second generation stars are representing other countries. Under World Rugby Regulation 9, players cannot represent another nation after they have been capped for another country. Charles Piutau, the outstanding Bristol Bears full back, last represented New Zealand before the 2015 World Cup and has repeatedly expressed his desire to switch allegiances to Tonga.