Rugby World Cup: Tonga draw inspiration from 2011

2:46 pm on 6 October 2019

Tonga believe they are capable of repeating their famous win against France eight years ago but admit they will need to cut down on basic errors and be more clinical on attack.

The 'Ikale Tahi stunned Les Bleus in the pool stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup although it wasn't enough to advance to the knockout rounds.

Siale Piutau played in Tonga's Rugby World Cup victory over France in 2011.

'Ikale Tahi captain Siale Piutau also played in the victory over France eight years ago. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Kingdom have actually won two of their five career meetings with France - the other was in Nuku'alofa in 1999 - but the teams have not played since 2013.

Coach Toutai Kefu has made two changes to the team that started last week's 28-12 defeat by Argentina, with Ma'afu Fia replacing Ben Tameifuna at tight-head prop and Cooper Vuna restored to the run-on side on the right wing, in place of Viliami Lolohea.

Cooper Vuna.

Cooper Vuna is back in the starting line-up. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Despite defeats against England and the Pumas, Kefu said they "definitely" were capable of causing an upset.

"I think so...(against Argentina) there was a lot of positives and it could have been a different result maybe if a few things went our way," he said.

"...France is just another team we have to play well against. For us we need to address those errors, just the execution and be a lot more clinical for us to be competitive.

"If we can fix that I think we're well on the way to winning the big games."

Tonga celebrate their victory over France at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Tonga celebrate their victory over France at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tonga failed to cross the try-line against England but showed more promise with the ball in hand against Argentina, with fullback Telusa Veainu scoring twice while the 'Ikale Tahi was unlucky to be denied a crucial penalty try just before half-time.

Toutai Kefu said his team had improved with every aspect of rugby over the last two World Cup matches and needed to keep that up against the three-time finalists.

"France is a quality team with a strong pack and threats all over the park and we saw from their match against Argentina that they are a team that can perform under pressure," he said.

"As a team we're looking forward to this match and continuing to put out a performance the people of Tonga can be proud of."

no caption

Fullback Telusa Veainu has scored Tonga's only two tries of the tournament so far. Photo: AFP

Tonga are yet to get off the mark in Pool C but a bonus point win over France would keep alive their faint hopes of reaching the quarter finals.

Meanwhile France coach Jacques Brunel has made 11 changes to the team that started their last match against the USA.


Siegfried Fisiihoi, Paula Ngauamo, Ma'afu Fia, Sam Lousi, Leva Fifita, Sione Kalamafoni, Zane Kapeli, Maama Vaipulu, Sonatane Takulua, James Faiva, David Halaifonua, Siale Piutau (c), Malietoa Hingano, Cooper Vuna, Telusa Veainu.

Reserves: Sosefo Sakalia, Vunipola Fifita, Siua Halanukonuka, Sitiveni Mafi, Nasi Manu, Leon Fukofuka, Latiume Fosita, Atieli Pakalani.


Jefferson Poirot (c), Camille Chat, Rabah Slimani, Paul Gabrillagues, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack, Alivereti Raka, Sofiane Guitoune, Virimi Vakatawa, Damian Penaud, Maxime Medard.

Reserves: Guilhem Guirado, Cyril Baille, Emerick Setiano, Bernard Le Roux, Yacouba Camara, Antoine Dupont, Camille Lopez, Pierre-Louis Barassi.