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Nuku’alofa – March 10, 2020: 12pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Government will work with the Tonga National Rugby League to meet the requirements set by the Federation of the International Rugby League.

This was confirmed today by the Chief Executive Officer at the Prime Minister’s Office, Edgar Cocker.

Cocker, who is also the Secretary to Cabinet, says the FIRL has responded to Government’s call for a review of the TNRL’s expulsion last month.

“The Notice, has set out a number of reasons, which the International Rugby League had concluded, that TNRL should be expelled, as a Member,” Cocker said in a press statement today.

“The Hon. Prime Minister of Tonga had officially informed the International Rugby League (IRL) and advised them, that the expulsion of the TNRL, is not supported, by the Government of Tonga.”

Prime Minister Hon Dr Pohiva Tu’ionetoa has written in support of the TNRL.

“Sports and recreation is to promote participation, fun and recreation, inclusivity, good health and community engagement, and to bring our people, here in Tonga, and around the world, together,” Hon Dr Tu’ionetoa said in a media statement.

“The unity and the continued support of the Government, has lifted our Tonga National teams on the international stage of rugby league competition. The Government has witnessed some Sports and Sport Associations, that are being troubled with internal differences, divisiveness, dissention and discord.

“This disharmony, will negatively affect the spirit and the dynamic of Sports in Tonga, if something is not done, as yet. The Government of Tonga, therefore, calls upon all associations, and all of the sports related groups, to please work together for the greater goods, and benefits, to all of the talented Tongans (males and females).”

The PM said disunity has disrupted alot of good work done and Government’s position is “one of harmony, inclusiveness and with sustainable developmental outcomes”.

“The Government will undertake to work tirelessly through this minor issue with the Tonga National Rugby League (TNLR), to ensure that governance, transparency and management issues, are strategically reviewed and adjusted, to meet the International Rugby League’s requirements, by the 30th June 2020,” he said.

“The Government strongly believes that peaceful reconciliation, and constant friendly dialogue with the respective parties in concerns, is the mere solution for all, so we can move forward for the best of our MMT fans, our youths, and for TNRL’s future athletes.

“This Government, is fully committed to the development and constant promotion of all Sports in Tonga, and respectively consider the lessons, we all have learnt, and be considered, as key pillars, for a stronger and solid foundation for sports development in Tonga.

“The Government, in it’s untiring efforts, is to ensure the smooth operations of sporting associations and affiliations, in the development of a comprehensive Tonga Sports and Recreation Act, and a respective Ministry of Sports within the next 12 months, to promote and secure the interests of the sports people, of the Kingdom.

“The Government is therefore, looking forward to working closely, together with the sports associations, the sports affiliations, and the people of Tonga, for their own benefits.”

Government’s statement comes in the wake of a media statement also issued by the Tonga Ma’a Tonga Rugby League, headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Semisi Sika, who was expelled by the court for mismanagement of the TNRL.

Sika had written to the international rugby league body last year pushing for the TNRL’s expulsion, and formed the new league body as a result.


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