18 Apr 2014

Sport: Tonga U20s still in shock but confident before tournament decider

11:36 am on 18 April 2014

Tonga coach Fe'ao Vunipola says it still hasn't quite hit home that his team has managed to qualify for the Junior World Rugby Trophy grand final.

The Kingdom recorded a bonus point victory over the USA in Tuesday's final pool match to finish atop the Group A standings, and will face Group B winners Japan in Saturday night's decider.

Having lost their opening match of the tournament against Georgia, Tonga also needed the European side to come to the party by not scoring four tries in their final match against Hong Kong, which came to fruition.

Fe'ao Vunipola says after such a disappointing start to fight back and sit 80 minutes away from promotion is a huge achievement.

"It hasn't really sunk in after escaping, the game going to the wire: us and American on the same bonus points 10 then it comes down to who was winning between us. We've been over the moon but it's back to the drawing board, back training again ready for Saturday. It gives us confidence but we don't want to be overconfident".

The winner will earn promotion to the elite Junior World Championship and Fe'ao Vunipola says it would be a big boost for his team and Tongan rugby.

"We know we are good enough to be in tier one but it needs a lot of planning. There is no academy in Tonga and I think that's where the main weakness is. The structure needs to be looked at where we can have right from Under 14s to the Under 20s setting out the pathways for the young boys to come through. Everybody knows but it comes down, I believe, to the funds, to the money".