World Cup final goes ahead despite threats and attacks on referee by Tongan lawyers

The Rugby League World Cup Final that many people thought should have featured Tonga challenging Australia kicks off in Brisbane tonight at 10pm New Zealand time.

The Mate Ma’a have been feted in the kingdom and awarded royal honours for their astonishing string of victories that came to an end last Saturday.

Tonight’s match has gone ahead despite earlier threats of legal action by lawyers Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki S.C. and Nalesoni Tupou, who considered filing an injunction against the staging of the World Cup final.

Barron-Afeaki and Tupou have been described as acting as legal advisers to the Tongan Rugby League.

The New Zealand Herald reported this evening that they had abandoned their plans after realising there wasn’t enough time.

They said the Tongan Rugby League wanted a re-match with England next year.

There has been a furious reaction to Tupou’s comments questioning referee Matt Cecchin’s mental health.

Cecchin failed to check the video records before refusing to allow Andrew Fifita’s last minute try, denying Tonga their  berth in tonight’s final.

Tupou claimed the referee’s previous issues with anxiety and mental health should have been taken into account by the tournament organisers and the Rugby League International Federation.

He asked if Cecchin was “fit and proper” to participate in the tournament.

Cecchin has been described as the most experienced referee in the NRL. He has talked about issues in the past, including a panic attack before an NRL match in 2016.

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand has slammed Tupou’s comments, calling them “a cheap shot.”

Foundation spokesperson Sophia Graham said the comments were unfair and disappointing.

“There are so many people working really hard to break down the stigma and discrimination that can so often attend an experience of mental illness,” Graham said.

“There is also amazing work happening in the Pasifika community and this really undermines it.”

The main points

  • The Rugby League World Cup Final that many people thought should have featured Tonga challenging Australia kicks off in Brisbane tonight at 10pm New Zealand time.
  • Tonight’s match has gone ahead untroubled by earlier threats of legal action by lawyers Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki S.C. and Nalesoni Tupou, who considered filing an injunction against the staging of the World Cup final.
  • The New Zealand Herald reported this evening that they had abandoned their plans after realising there wasn’t enough time.
  • There has been a furious reaction to his Tupou’s comments questioning referee Matt Cecchin’s mental health.

For more information 

League: Tonga drop legal bid to halt World Cup final, seek redemption clash against England

League: Tongan lawyer questions World Cup referee’s mental health history

Foundation slams Tongan lawyer’s comments on league referee’s mental health

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