17 Oct 2003

Tonga church leaders upset at Sunday World Cup rugby

4:23 pm on 17 October 2003

The General Secretary of the Free Wesleyan Church in Tonga says its national rugby team should not be playing its world cup game against Wales in Australia this Sunday.

The Reverend Benjamin Fonua says Tonga is a religious country which observes Sunday as a holy day.

The Rev Fonua says the National team has never played on a Sunday in Tonga and he feels sorry for the players.

He says other sporting events have changed their schedule to accomodate the churches' beliefs.

"'In the past we expressed out concerns to the national association of athletics over the South Pacific Games ....when the planned to have events run on Sundays then we expressed concerns that they change this from Sunday and use Sunday as a rest day, but we were hoping that the rugby union here could do the same but they could not"

The Rev Fonua says the church wrote to the Tonga Rugby Union to express their concerns but they did not receive a response.