Tonga national rugby union team

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Tonga
Logo Tonga Rugby.svg
UnionTonga Rugby Football Union
Nickname(s)ʻIkale Tahi
Emblem(s)The White Dove
Coach(es)Mana Otai
Captain(s)Nili Latu
Most capsElisi Vunipola (41)
Top scorerPierre Hola (317)
Most triesJosh Taumalolo (14)
Team kit
Change kit
First international
 Tonga 9 – 6 Fiji 
(15 August 1924)
Largest win
 Tonga 119 – 0 South Korea 
(22 March 2003)
Largest defeat
 New Zealand 102 – 0 Tonga 
(16 June 2000)
World Cup
Appearances6 (First in 1987)
Best resultFirst round, third in pool 1995,2007 & 2011
 
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Not to be confused with Tonga national rugby league team.
Tonga
Logo Tonga Rugby.svg
UnionTonga Rugby Football Union
Nickname(s)ʻIkale Tahi
Emblem(s)The White Dove
Coach(es)Mana Otai
Captain(s)Nili Latu
Most capsElisi Vunipola (41)
Top scorerPierre Hola (317)
Most triesJosh Taumalolo (14)
Team kit
Change kit
First international
 Tonga 9 – 6 Fiji 
(15 August 1924)
Largest win
 Tonga 119 – 0 South Korea 
(22 March 2003)
Largest defeat
 New Zealand 102 – 0 Tonga 
(16 June 2000)
World Cup
Appearances6 (First in 1987)
Best resultFirst round, third in pool 1995,2007 & 2011

The Tonga national rugby union team is nicknamed ʻIkale Tahi (Sea Eagles). Like their Polynesian neighbours, the Tongans start their matches with a war dance – the Sipi Tau. They are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Samoa. The Ikale Tahi achieved a historical 19 – 14 victory over France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but having lost to New Zealand and Canada, were unable to achieve what would have been their first ever presence at the quarter-finals. On 24 November 2012, Tonga beat Scotland, at Pittodrie Stadium, 21-15 for their first victory over a traditional rugby power on a European pitch.

History[edit]

Rugby was brought to the region in the early 20th Century by sailors and missionaries and the Tonga Rugby Football Union was formed in late 1923. Tonga beat Fiji 9–6 in their first test in 1924 played in the capital Nukuʻalofa. However, Tonga lost the second test 14–3 and drew the decider 0–0.

Between 1924 and 1938 Tonga and Fiji played three test series every alternate year. Matches between the two Pacific nations were hard fought; many have claimed that the ancient feuding wars between the Islanders were transplanted onto the rugby field. Troubles during the third Test of Fiji’s 1928 tour to Tonga forced the game to be abandoned with Tonga leading 11–8. In 1954 Tonga played host to a touring Western Samoa.

Tonga beat New Zealand Māori in 1969 but had to wait until 1973 before they played their second test match a 30–12 defeat against Australia in Sydney. They got their revenge when they beat Australia in Ballymore, Brisbane 16–11, scoring four tries to two in June 1973. The following year they travelled to the Arms Park for a non-cap international against Wales, a game that ended in a 26–7 defeat.

The first Tongan tour to Great Britain was in 1974 when they played 10 games, including those in Wales against East Wales, Llanelli, North Wales, Newport, West Wales and a Wales XV. The only tour victory was by 18–13 in the opener against East Wales. The 'tests' were lost by 44–8 to a Scotland XV and by 26–7 to the Wales XV.

They remained a little-known quantity in Europe until 1986 when Wales embarked on a tour of Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa. Early in the game against Tonga Welsh flanker Mark Brown was flattened by three Tongan forwards, leading to a mass brawl involving the entire team except Malcolm Dacey and Mark Titley. Robert Jones describes the event in his book Raising The Dragon as "the worst brawl I have ever seen on a rugby field." At the post-match dinner Jonathan Davies was asked to give a few words in Welsh and as the hosts politely applauded he described them as "the dirtiest team I have ever played against!"

Tonga were drawn to play Wales again in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The previous meeting, plus the decision to rest some of the leading players, led to a poor Welsh performance though they managed to win 29–16. Tonga lost its other two games to Ireland (32–9) and Canada (37–4).

They failed to qualify for the 1991 Rugby World Cup. In 1994 they won the South Pacific championship on try count and so qualified for the Super 10, they finished bottom of their pool with only one point.

They qualified for the 1995 World Cup ahead of Fiji on points difference. Tonga managed only two victories in the next two World Cups, against the 29–11 Côte d'Ivoire in 1995 and Italy in 1999. The win over the Côte d'Ivoire brought tragedy when Ivorian winger Max Brito was left paralyzed.

June 1999 brought their greatest home victory, a 20–16 defeat of France in Nukuʻalofa over a touring France but in 2000 they were humiliated 102–0 (including 15 tries) by New Zealand.

After losing their first four matches to Fiji and Samoa, Tonga finished third in the Oceania qualifying group. As a result they had to play home and away matches against Papua New Guinea, which they won 47–14 and 84–12, followed by a play-off against South Korea, who finished as runners-up in the Asian section. Tonga thrashed them 75–0 and 119–0.

At the 2003 Rugby World Cup Tonga lost all their games and finished bottom of their pool. Despite keeping Wales to 20–27, they were again thrashed by New Zealand 91–7.

In 2007 Tonga participated in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, winning 2 of their pool matches and nearly defeating the eventual champions, South Africa, in one of the most memorable and exciting games of the tournament, eventually going down 30–25.

Tonga achieved one of the greatest victories in Rugby World Cup history with their 19 - 14 win over France in the 2011 World Cup.

On 24 November 2012, Tonga beat Scotland, at Pittodrie Stadium, 21-15 for their first victory over a traditional rugby power on a European pitch.

Sipi Tau[edit]

Main article: Kailao

Like a lot of the big Pacific rugby nations, Tonga has a pre-game war dance (Haka). The Sipi Tau is a form of the Kailao. Tonga perform the kailao/Sipi Tau prior to the commencement of a match. The kailao was originally a war dance that was imported to Tonga from Wallis Island. It is usually performed at both public and private ceremonies.

One of the most memorable performances in modern times of the Sipi Tau was during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, in Tonga's match against the All Blacks. The All Blacks began their traditional haka, and then Tonga answered to the haka through the sipi tau whilst the All Blacks were performing it, bringing the teams within metres of one another just prior to kick-off.[1]

Tongan squad selectors have surprised their supporters in the past but the exclusion of regular starter and captain since 2009, Kirk Watton-Green III from the World Cup 2011 squad has caused a lot of controversy. Watton-Green III has been left out due to his recent signing for Exeter Chiefs in England according to selectors but there have been rumours that it may be down to the bad boy tag that comes with him.

Wins against Tier 1 nations[edit]

Overall Record[edit]

Top 25 Rankings as 1 December 2014[2]
RankChange*TeamPoints
1Steady New Zealand93.70
2Steady South Africa88.23
3Steady Ireland85.48
4Steady England84.85
5Steady Australia82.95
6Steady Wales81.64
7Steady France79.66
8Steady Scotland78.78
9Steady Argentina78.23
10Steady Samoa75.39
11Steady Japan74.70
12Steady Fiji74.57
13Steady Tonga74.12
14Steady Italy71.19
15Steady Georgia70.76
16Steady United States67.61
17Steady Romania67.38
18Steady Canada66.83
19Steady Russia64.12
20Steady Uruguay63.58
21Steady Spain60.65
22Steady Portugal58.56
23Steady Namibia58.27
24Steady South Korea57.22
25Steady Germany56.32
*Change from the previous week
Tonga's Historical Rankings
Tonga IRB World Rankings.png
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 6 October 2014[2]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Fiji national XV at test level up until 30 November 2014.[3]

OpponentPlayedWonLostDrawnWin %ForAgaDiff
 Australia413025%42167−125
 Australia A [N 1]10100%1560−45
 Canada725028.57%127175−48
 Chile1100100%3230+2
 Cook Islands3300100%23522+213
 England [N 1]30300%47174−127
 Fiji872658329.89%11411694−553
 France523040%75149−74
 Georgia321050%8743+44
 Ireland20200%2872-44
 Italy413025%63137−74
 Ivory Coast1100100%2911+18
 Japan1587053.33%409359+50
New Zealand Junior All Blacks [N 1]20200%2377−54
 Namibia1100100%2014+6
 New Zealand40400%26279−253
 Māori [N 1]1248033.33%165319−154
 Papua New Guinea2200100%13126+105
 Portugal1100100%2419+5
 Romania1010100%1819-1
 Samoa511830335.29%742935-193
 Scotland [N 1]615016.67%71203-132
 South Korea6600100%46466+398
 South Africa20200%35104-69
 United States761083.71%18898+90
 Wales [N 1]80800%85229-144
 Zimbabwe1100100%4213+29
Total24087147636.25%43645494-1130
  1. ^ a b c d e f Tonga has awarded international caps for several games against national XV selections and A and B national teams.

World Cup Record[edit]

World Cup recordWorld Cup Qualification record
YearRoundPWDLFAPWDLFA
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987Pool Stage30032998Automatically qualified
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991Did not qualify31026462
South Africa 1995Pool Stage3102449021013426
Wales 1999Pool Stage3102471717205317241
Australia 2003Pool Stage4004461788404398178
France 2007Pool Stage420289967304329136
New Zealand 2011Pool Stage42028098Automatically qualified
England 2015-------
Japan 2019To be determinedTo be determined
Total7/821601533573127110161142643

Current squad[edit]

On the 13 October, head coach Mana Otai announced their 30-man squad for their 2014 end-of-year tests against Georgia (8 Nov), the United States (15 Nov) and Scotland (22 Nov), plus the announcement of the appointment of World Cup winning coach and former Springbok coach Jake White as a Technical Advisor for the tour.[4]

On 14 October, Amanaki Lelei Mafi withdrew himself from the squad after choosing to represent Japan instead of Tonga, after being named in the Japanese squad for their November tests.[5][6] Ben Tameifuna also with drew from the squad so that he could make himself eligible for All Blacks selection.[7]

Paea Fa'anunu, Siua Halanukonuka, Sione Kalamafoni, Sione Lea and Hemani Paea were called up to the squad after Halani Aulika, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Ben Tameifuna, Sona Taumalolo, Ma'ama Vaipulu and Taione Vea all withdrew from the squad either because of injury or contract issues.


Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by the World Rugby.

PlayerPositionDate of Birth (Age)CapsClub/province
Aleki LutuiHooker(1978-07-01) 1 July 1978 (age 36)36England Gloucester
Paul NgauamoHooker(1990-02-19) 19 February 1990 (age 24)2France Oyonnax
Elvis TaioneHooker(1983-05-25) 25 May 1983 (age 31)13England Exeter Chiefs
Halani AulikaProp(1983-08-31) 31 August 1983 (age 31)8England London Irish
Paea Fa'anunuProp(1988-11-04) 4 November 1988 (age 26)3France Castres
Siua HalanukonukaProp(1986-08-09) 9 August 1986 (age 28)1New Zealand Tasman
Sione LeaProp(1987-01-12) 12 January 1987 (age 27)2New Zealand Taranaki
Tevita MailauProp(1985-04-25) 25 April 1985 (age 29)13France Stade Montois
Sila PuafisiProp(1988-04-15) 15 April 1988 (age 26)13England Gloucester
Sona TaumaloloProp(1981-11-13) 13 November 1981 (age 33)13France Racing Métro
Taione VeaProp(1988-12-01) 1 December 1988 (age 26)6England London Welsh
Lisiate Fa'aosoLock(1983-03-18) 18 March 1983 (age 31)16France Bayonne
Tukulua LokotuiLock(1979-12-31) 31 December 1979 (age 35)21France Béziers Hérault
Joe TuineauLock(1981-08-18) 18 August 1981 (age 33)18France Lyon
Hale T-PoleLock(1979-04-30) 30 April 1979 (age 35)31Sri Lanka Havelock Sports Club
Sione KalamafoniFlanker(1988-05-18) 18 May 1988 (age 26)24England Gloucester
Nili Latu (c)Flanker(1982-02-19) 19 February 1982 (age 32)42Japan Green Rockets
Ma'ama VaipuluFlanker(1989-07-21) 21 July 1989 (age 25)0New Zealand Counties Manukau
Viliami FihakiNumber 8(1987-01-17) 17 January 1987 (age 27)5England Sale Sharks
Viliami Ma'afuNumber 8(1982-03-09) 9 March 1982 (age 32)21France Oyonnax
Taniela MoaScrum-half(1985-11-03) 3 November 1985 (age 29)20France Section Paloise
Tomasi PaluScrum-half(1986-09-23) 23 September 1986 (age 28)11England Doncaster Knights
Sonatane TakuluaScrum-half(1991-01-11) 11 January 1991 (age 23)5New Zealand Northland
Latiume FositaFly-half(1992-07-25) 25 July 1992 (age 22)8New Zealand Northland
Kurt MorathFly-half(1984-11-13) 13 November 1984 (age 30)21France Biarritz Olympique
Liueli SimoteFly-half0Tonga Tupou College
Hemani PaeaCentre(1985-07-30) 30 July 1985 (age 29)4France Oyonnax
Sione PiukalaCentre(1985-06-08) 8 June 1985 (age 29)10France Perpignan
Siale PiutauCentre(1985-10-13) 13 October 1985 (age 29)19Japan Yamaha Júbilo
Otulea KatoaWing(1991-04-26) 26 April 1991 (age 23)3New Zealand Southland
Daniel KilioniWing(1993-02-22) 22 February 1993 (age 21)0France Grenoble
Fetu'u VainikoloWing(1985-01-30) 30 January 1985 (age 29)17England Exeter Chiefs
David HalaifonuaFullback(1987-07-05) 5 July 1987 (age 27)12France Bergerac
Vunga LiloFullback(1983-02-28) 28 February 1983 (age 31)33France Tarbes

Individual all-time records[edit]

Most caps[edit]

#PlayerPosSpanMatStartSubPtsTriesConvPensDropWonLostDraw%
1.Elisi VunipolaFly-half1990-2005414015082201526036.58
2.Pierre HolaFly-half1998-20093938131711683931326033.33
Benhur KivaluNumber 81998-2005393544080001424137.17
4.Manu VunipolaScrum-half1987-199936315920001223134.72
5.Fe'ao VunipolaHooker1988-2001343221530001320139.70
6.Aleki LutuiHooker1999-201133267255000923128.78
Ephraim TaukafaHooker2002-20113317163060001419042.42
Viliami VakiLock2001-200833267357000924027.27
9.Vili Ma'asiHooker1997-2009321517153000725021.87
10.4 players on 29 caps

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most tries[edit]

#PlayerPosSpanMatStartSubPtsTriesConvPensDrop
1.Josh TaumaloloCentre1996-200726233118146120
2.Pierre HolaFly-half1998-2009393813171168393
3.Fepikou TatafuCentre1996-2002232125010000
4.Vunga LiloFullback2007-201227261609050
5.Viliame IongiWing2011-18126408000
Benhur KivaluNumber 81998-200539354408000
Elisi VunipolaFly-half1990-200541401508220
8.5 players on 7 tries

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Leading point scorers[edit]

#PlayerPosSpanMatStartSubPtsTriesConvPensDrop
1.Pierre HolaFly-half1998-2009393813171168393
2.Kurt MorathFly-half2009-18162231135520
3.Sateki Tu'ipulotuFullback1993-200320191190533321
4.Fangatapu ApikotoaFly-half2004-25178127239130
5.Josh TaumaloloCentre1996-200726233118146120
6.Gustavo TongaFullback1996-200113121114132150
7.Vunga LiloFullback2007-201227261609050
8.Fepikou TatafuCentre1996-2002232125010000
Elisi VunipolaFly-half1990-200541401508220
10.Valita Ma'akeFullback1973-1980171704701090

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most points in a match[edit]

#PlayerPosPtsTriesConvPensDropOppositionVenueDate
1.Pierre HolaCentre4421700 South KoreaTonga Nuku'alofa22/03/2003
2.Fangatapu ApikotoaFly-half3021000 South KoreaNew Zealand Henderson10/02/2007
3.Sateki Tu'ipulotuFullback271820 South KoreaSouth Korea Seoul04/05/1999
4.Pierre HolaFullback240911 Papua New GuineaTonga Nuku'alofa07/12/2002
5.Gustavo TongaFullback231900 Cook IslandsTonga Nuku'alofa05/07/1997
6.Benhur KivaluFly-half204000 South KoreaTonga Nuku'alofa22/03/2003
Viliame IongiCentre204000 United StatesEngland Esher08/06/2011
Kurt MorathFly-half200440 FijiFiji Lautoka02/07/2011
9.3 players on 19 points

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most tries in a match[edit]

#PlayerPosPtsTriesConvPensDropOppositionVenueDate
1.Benhur KivaluNumber 8204000 South KoreaTonga Nuku'alofa22/03/2003
Viliame IongiWing204000 United StatesEngland Esher08/06/2011
3.Josh TaumaloloFly-half153000 Cook IslandsTonga Nuku'alofa05/07/1997
Josh TaumaloloFullback173100 GeorgiaGeorgia (country) Tbilisi28/03/1999
Jonathan KoloiFlanker153000 South KoreaSouth Korea Seoul04/05/1999
Viliami HakaloWing153000 Cook IslandsCook Islands Raratonga24/06/2006
7.46 players on 2 tries

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most matches as captain[edit]

#PlayerPosSpanMatWonLostDraw%PtsTriesConvPensDrop
1.Nili LatuFlanker2006-251114044.00183010
2.Inoke AfeakiLock2001-20031248033.33153000
3.Fakahau ValuFlanker1977-19871101100.00123000
4.Aleki LutuiHooker2004-2011918011.1151000
Elisi VunipolaFly-half1999-2001945044.44153000
6.Sione Mafi PahuluNumber 81973-1975716014.28153010
7.Siaosi AtiolaNumber 81987-1990614125.0041000
8.Mana OtaiNumber 81995532060.0051000
Fe'ao VunipolaHooker1994-1998523040.0000000
10.5 players on 4 matches

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Youngest players[edit]

#PlayerPosAgeOppositionVenueDate
1.Elisi VunipolaFly-half17 years and 292 days FijiTonga Nuku'alofa24/03/1990
2.Sione Kalamafoni(Flanker)18 years and 268 days South KoreaNew Zealand Henderson10/02/2007
3.Soane HaveaScrum-half18 years and 292 days New ZealandNew Zealand North Shore City16/06/2000
4.Semi TaupeaafeWing18 years and 317 days FijiFiji Suva11/06/1991
5.Sinali-Tui LatuNumber 818 years and 320 days FijiFiji Suva07/07/1984
6.Unuoi Va'enukuCentre19 years and 51 days FranceSouth Africa Pretoria26/05/1995
7.Viliami Hakalo(Wing)19 years and 53 days JapanJapan Fukuoka04/06/2006
8.Pita AlatiniCentre19 years and 119 days SamoaTonga Nuku'alofa08/07/1995
9.Tevita 'Ahoafi(Scrum-half)19 years and 171 days Australia AAustralia Sydney25/05/2007
10.Isi TapuelueluCentre19 years and 176 days FijiTonga Nuku'alofa24/03/1990

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Oldest players[edit]

#PlayerPosAgeOppositionVenueDate
1.Rudi KapeliHooker35 years and 311 days AustraliaAustralia Brisbane04/07/1993
2.Kuli FaletauLock35 years and 185 days CanadaTonga Nuku'alofa03/07/1999
3.Ephraim TaukafaHooker35 years and 80 days CanadaNew Zealand Whangarei14/09/2011
4.Hemani LavakaProp34 years and 292 days CanadaAustralia Wollongong29/10/2003
5.Tonga Lea'aetoaProp34 years and 168 days FijiFiji Lautoka19/08/2011
6.Kisi PuluProp34 years and 144 days FijiFiji Lautoka23/06/2012
7.Taufa'ao FiliseProp34 years and 118 days JapanNew Zealand Whangarei21/09/2011
8.Johnny NgauamoCentre34 years and 101 days CanadaAustralia Wollongong29/10/2003
9.Finau MakaFlanker34 years and 83 days FranceNew Zealand Wellington01/10/2011
10.Inoke Afeaki(Lock)34 years and 78 days EnglandFrance Parc des Princes28/09/2007

Last updated: Fiji vs Tonga, 23 June 2013. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Notable Former Players[edit]

Notes[edit]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]