19 Sep 2003

Tonga Rugby Union says overstayers in NZ threaten future tours

3:42 pm on 19 September 2003

The Chief Executive Officer of the Tonga Rugby Union, Sakopo Lolohea, says the actions of the 14 overstaying rugby players in New Zealand will jeopardise future tours.

The members of the Vava'u Under-21 rugby side were due to fly out of Auckland earlier this month but did not catch their flight, sparking calls from immigration officials to return home.

Mr Lolohea says his union is disappointed with the side and it's management, after they gave immigration officials guarantees of the team's return.

"We have written to the Vava'u subunion in Tonga here, expressing very deep embarrassment over what's happening and informing him there will be no more tours from Vava'u to New Zealand that would be supported by the Tongan Rugby Union in the future until all the players are back."

Mr Lolohea says a sevens team which was planning to attend a tournament in New Zealand later this year may now not do so.