Nuku’alofa – May 13, 2020: 10.55pm (INSIDE THE GAMES): Tonga is expected to soon reapply for International Rugby League (IRL) membership after its previous organisation was expelled.
The IRL threw out Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) in March after suspending them in October when governance concerns were raised.
Issues were brought forward by the office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tonga Sports Council, the Rugby Football League, the Australian Rugby League Commission and the Rugby League Players Association.
Concerns started when a number of the nation’s top players threatened boycotts after the TNRL sacked popular coach Kristian Woolf, who had led the team to qualification for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Further confrontation between IRL and the TNRL led to the Tongan governing body being suspended and then expelled in a 9-5 vote.
IRL has now said it continues to monitor events in Tonga and expects to receive an application from a new organisation soon.
Danny Kazandjian, the IRL global operations manager, said the situation looks to be improving after the nomination of directors last week, while two candidates have emerged for chairman.
He said: “We understand that the active Tongan rugby league community has been working closely with one another to create an organisation that will best represent it, at home and internationally.
“The nomination of Sika Manu and Will Hopoate [as directors] last week was a good sign of that cooperation, and it’s pleasing to see further signs of collaboration from the dozens of clubs in the Kingdom.
“An Implementation Committee has worked to bring together the various elements of the Tongan rugby league community and will help facilitate an application by an organisation for IRL membership in due course.
“The IRL will then assess any application against our membership rules and will make the decision on whether to admit a Tongan member to our register.
“We appreciate the supportive correspondence from the Tongan Government, which has committed to working closely with the IRL to restore Tonga to the international rugby league community.”
Implementation Committee member Ikani Taliai will attend a meeting on Friday (15 May ) where clubs will recruit two independent directors.
The candidates for chairman are Member of Parliament and former acting Prime Minister of Tonga Semisi Sika and Lord Fakafanua, the current speaker of the Parliament.
Businessmen John Paul Chapman and Ipolito Lasalo are the candidates for the finance director position.
Member of the Implementation Committee, Konrad Hurrell, welcomed the latest developments.
“It is so encouraging to see the quality and the experience of the candidates for the new Board,” he said.
“This process has been a fantastic opportunity for the whole Tongan rugby league community to have their say, elect a new and really talented Board who will lead the whole of a united Tongan rugby league forward,” he said …PACNEWS