20 Nov 2018

Sport: Tonga hopeful of joining World Rugby Council

11:45 am on 20 November 2018

Tonga remains hopeful of one day joining neighbours Samoa and Fiji on the World Rugby Council.

The Pacific Island nations were unanimously elected onto the Council last week after meeting new governance criteria.

The Tonga Rugby Union have their own challenges, with 'Ikale Tahi players regularly paid late and head coach Toutai Kefu earlier this year labelling their governance and administration as incompetent.

Halfback Sonatane Takulua will be a key player for Tonga against Wales.

Tonga were thumped 74-24 by Wales in Cardiff at the weekend. Photo: AFP

But four months on Kefu was optimistic when asked if Tonga could one day join their Pacific neighbours at rugby's top table.

"We're starting to get things together on the field - not only with the 'Ikale Tahi but the (men's) sevens did well in a recent tournament," he said.

"I'm sure our governance is heading in the right direction. There's always a few little roadblocks and challenges along the way but I think as a whole Union we're heading in the right direction."

Pacific Rugby Players CEO Aayden Clarke worked with the Fiji and Samoa Rugby Unions on their World Rugby Council bids and said there is definitely an appetite for Tonga to eventually follow the same path.

"There's probably a fair way to go for Tonga and they recognise that but it doesn't mean that the willingness isn't there," he said.

"I'm sure over the next period that Tonga will look at what they need to do as well and now that they've seen that their fellow (Pacific Island) countries have achieved it hopefully we will have some good work going in and get them there too eventually one day."