“We are still very much with you,” Deputy PM tells ‘Ikale Tahi after loss to Georgia

The ‘Ikale Tahi’s upset loss to Georgia in their opening game during the Rugby World Cup 2015 in Gloucester last week hurt many Tongan die hard supporters, including the Deputy Prime Minister.

But deputy leader Siaosi Sovaleni said his support for the team would only grow.

“Although the ‘Ikale Tahis were defeated, causing disappointment, that would not deter any further supports for them [translated]. All the best boys for the next couple of games…we are still very much with you. More so now!” Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni wrote on Facebook.

Georgia beat Tonga by 17-10 points, a result that put it in one of the five “Biggest Climbers” teams after the first week of the tournament. On the other hand Tonga dropped and became part of the five “Biggest Fallers” of the Rugby World Cup along with Russia, Scotland, USA and Italy.

The defeat has divided Tongan supporters, with many accusing head coach Mana ‘Otai of  failing to adjust the game plan in the second half after it was clear Georgia had gained control of the game by making good use of its heavier forward players.

The loss has dented Tonga’s chances of gaining at least a third place in pool C and a guarantee of qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

‘Otai has admitted his team made “technical errors” leading to their unexpected loss.

The “fight isn’t over yet”, he told British media.

The Ikale Tahi’s failure to compete at scrums and lineouts was central to their defeat by Georgia, Reuters news agency quoted ʻOtai as saying.

Tonga is scheduled to play Namibia next Tuesday, September 29, with two more games scheduled against Argentina on October 4 and the mighty All Blacks on October 9.

Yesterday the Tongan Legislative Assembly released an emotional statement calling on the nation to continue their supports for the ‘Ikale Tahi.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Fe’ao Vakata, who is also in charge of Sports and Athletics, was quoted in the statement as saying that although Tonga had been defeated, the team still had a chance of competing in the World Cup match series.

“Our constituencies and Government ministries need to support our rugby players,” Hon. Vakatā said.

“Continue wearing red and attend the float parade in support of our team.”

The parliamentary statement was made to revive the level of support seen in the kingdom before the Rugby World Cup 2015 kicked off.

According to the statement the Noble MPs offered their encouragement, with Lord Tuʻilakepa saying Tonga should continue to give support to the ʻIkale Tahis for the sacrifices they had made to represent Tonga.

“The players left their family and loved ones to commit their time to go and represent Tonga in the World Cup,” Lord Tu’ilakepa said.

Tuʻilakepa said he believed that it would make a big difference if the team’s Tongan fans revived and increased their support before Tuesday’s battle with Namibia.

“That’s not the end of the game series … we all pray for Tonga to win, but in sports there is always a winner and a loser. So I ask MPs to support our ‘Ikale Tahi team,” Lord Tu’ilakepa said.

The Speaker of Parliament, Lord Tu’ivakano, told the House the Ikale Tahis were representing the country and that was a heavy burden to carry with them during the Rugby World Cup.

“We hope and pray the ‘Ikale Tahi will continue to be brave and strong in their endeavour,” Lord Tu’ivakano said.

The main points

  • Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said this week the ‘Ikale Tahi’s upset loss to Georgia would only make his support for the team grow.
  • Georgia beat Tonga by 17-10 points. Tonga joined Russia, Scotland, USA and Italy as one of the biggest losers in the Rugby World Cup so far.
  • Yesterday the Tongan Legislative Assembly released an emotional statement calling on the nation to continue their supports for the ‘Ikale Tahi.
  • Lord Tu’ilakepa said it would make a big difference if the team’s Tongan fans increased their support before Tuesday’s battle with Argentina.

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