23 Apr 2014

Sport: Tonga to play Pacific Barbarians, accuse IRB of 'starving' Island teams

10:55 am on 23 April 2014

The Tonga Rugby Union says it is being starved of top level tests, which has forced it to go out and arrange its own internationals.

The 'Ikale Tahi will play a test match against a Pacific Barbarians team in Auckland in June, in an effort to fill a shortfall in their international calendar leading into next year's World Cup.

The President and Chair of the Tonga Rugby Union, Epi Taione, says they only have two Pacific Nations Cup tests in the June window and only eight matches in total scheduled before next year's global showpiece.

He says Tonga deserves more matches against tier one countries but the International Rugby Board is not coming to the party.

"We're swimming against the tide on that. Unfortunately the IRB have the say on that and in advance four years they provided all the tests and nominated who is playing who. As a tier two nation we're just plugging holes. I just feel we're basically getting starved in the wilderness on our own - I think Samoa and Fiji feel the same. I would say at the moment it's just the talent of our players that keep us there."

Epi Taione says both teams will be made of primarily northern hemisphere based players, with a number of ex All Blacks and Wallabies expected among the Baabaas line-up.