Tonga rugby

All Blacks record result shines a spotlight on Tonga's plight

Many Tonga players had to pay for their own quarantine in New Zealand and the Ikale Tahi selected 13 debutants, some plucked from New Zealand club rugby, due to player unavailability.

The 'Ikale Tahi team drew cheers from their fans as they walked towards the All Blacks haka, but that was where the challenge ended for Tonga.

The All Blacks scored 16 tries to none against an 'Ikale Tahi side peppered with amatuer players, but who played with passion until the final whistle.

Tonga boss explains challenging build-up to All Blacks Test

‘Ikale Tahi were thrashed 102-0 by New Zealand in an embarrassing loss at Mt Smart Stadium, but it didn’t tell the whole story.

They were without their top players from Europe with Kefu scrambling around the Mitre 10 Cup to put a squad together.

There were 13 uncapped players in the 23-man outfit which faced the All Blacks and Kefu said that quarantine rules caused by Covid-19 forced them to bring in a number of new faces.

Tonga names nine debutants in line-up against All Blacks

Six of the players have been named in the forward pack.

Duke Nginingini will take up the loosehead prop position.

He plays for Karaka in the Counties Manukau club competition.

Joining him is Sam Moli, the younger brother of four-test All Blacks prop Atu.

Dan Lolo has been named in the second row.

Rugbypass reported that the loose forwards are made up entirely of uncapped players, with blindside flanker Mateaki Kafatolu the most experienced of the back row trio after four seasons with Wellington and a brief spell with the Sunwolves last year.

Former Tongan rugby star supporting Pasifika with disabilities

'Isileli Kaiongo Tupou wants to encourage young people to choose support work as a meaningful and life-changing career, an opportunity to grow as a person and open doors to new meaning and opportunity.

Tupou is a disability support co-ordinator for Vaka Tautua in Canterbury - a team committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples, families and communities. Vaka Tautua provides community support for older people, people living with disability and those needing support for mental health.

'I'm ready': Tonga and Fiji beware, Brodie Retallick is back

Retallick spent the past two seasons in Japan on sabbatical but has been whisked straight back into the All Blacks and forms one fifth of a strong locking contingent alongside captain Samuel Whitelock, experienced operators Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu, and young gun Tupou Vaa’i.

While Retallick wasn’t in Japan on holiday, the second-rower has said that he’s now mentally and physically refreshed after spending the first eight years of his professional career playing week-in and week-out for the Chiefs and All Blacks.

New look Tongan rugby squad assemble ahead of All Blacks clash

Half the squad are new to test rugby, with a number of front-line players unavailable for selection because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

'Ikale Tahi coach Toutai Kefu admitted finalising a list of 30 players was a challenge.

"Purely because of the Covid restrictions and the restrictions of guys playing overseas so, in that sense, really really difficult but on the positive side you get to explore, investigate new players, so that was interesting."

Tonga names 15 new caps to face All Blacks, Samoa

The 30-man squad includes 22 players based in New Zealand, with four from France, two from Australia and one each from Japan and Italy.

The new faces includes recent Super Rugby debutants Solomone Funaki (Highlanders) and Viliami Taulani (Chiefs), former New Zealand sevens player Sam Vaka and Japan based winger Hosea Saumaki, who turned down an opportunity to play for the 'Ikale Tahi Tonga team three years ago.

Veteran halfback Sonatane Takulua will captain the 'Ikale Tahi, following the international retirement of Siale Piutau at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Tonga Rugby partners with Sio Mai Print in preparation for Rugby World Cup qualifiers

  New Zealand kit manufacturers Sio Mai Print has been chosen to provide the kit for the Ikale Tahi for the July 2021 programme which includes a test against the All Blacks and two Rugby World Cup qualification games against Samoa.

The fabric print design company is one of the leading bespoke kit manufacturers in NZ providing a locally made high quality contemporary product.

Their quality product has been used by the Tongan Sevens team for two years and this support has led Tonga Rugby to increase Sio Mai Print’s involvement to include the National team.

Ferris happy to answer Tongan rugby's call for help

The Tonga Rugby Union announced last month that players and staff based in New Zealand and Tonga would not be considered for selection because of the ongoing risks associated with Covid-19, with regular coach Tevita Tu'ifua also remaining in New Zealand.

So, Ferris will pick European-based players and possibly one or two from Japan.

Adriaan Ferris, of Ngāti Porou, is a former Northland NPC coach where he crossed paths with a number of Tongan players, including Fetu'u Vainikolo and Taniela Moa.

John Kirwan fears for Tonga and Fiji ahead of All Blacks Tests

Ian Foster’s men will take on Tonga in their opening game of the July Tests before a double-header against Fiji.

Although there is plenty of individual quality within those sides, they have only played one match in total since the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Tonga have yet to play a game since the global tournament and, while Fiji competed in the Autumn Nations Cup, they had three encounters cancelled due to an outbreak of Covid.