Sports Minister says gov’t selects “new fresh Rugby League Board” as he clarifies denial against proposed name allegations

Na’e fakamahino ‘e he Minisita ‘o e Sipoti he pongipongi ni ki he Kaniva’ ko e poate fo’ou ‘oku fili ‘e he pule’anga’ e ‘ikai toe fakakau ha taha ai na’e ‘osi kau ki ha poate liiki ki mu’a tautefito ki he ongo poate ne na fekihiaki pe ko hai te ne fakalele ‘a e liiki. Ko e poate fo’ou ko eni ko e fokotu’u ia na’e ‘oatu mei he kautaha ‘Akapulu Liiki Fakavaha’apule’anga (KALF) pe IRL ki he pule’anga Tonga’ ke nau fokotu’u mai. Na’e pehe ‘e Vatau Hui ‘e pau ke ‘ave ‘a e poate fo’ou ko eni ki he KALF. Na’a ne pehe foki ne te’eki ke ma’u ‘e he pule’anga’ ha fetu’utaki mei he KALF ki he lipooti he uike ni ‘o pehe kuo ‘osi fokotu’u ‘e he KALF mo 'ene Komiti Fakahokongaue ha poate fo’ou ke ne tokanga’i ‘a e liiki ‘i Tonga’. Kuo lipooti ‘a e Letiō Nu'u Sila (RNZ) ‘aneuhu ‘o pehē kuo 'osi fakanounou e he Komiti Fakahoko Ngaue 'a e KALF 'ene lisi ki ha niihi ke sea he poate fo'ou ko eni pea 'oku toe ai 'a e Fakafofonga Fale Alea Semisi Sika pea pehē ki he Sea Fale Alea Looti Fakafanua ke fili ko hai 'ia kinaua e Sea. Toe pehē 'e he Letioo' ko e poate IRL ko eni kuo kau ki ai ‘a e kapiteni Sika Manu mo Will Hopoate. Na’e toe fakamahino foki ‘e Hui ‘a ‘ene faka’ikai’i ‘a e lipooti ne ha ‘i he mitia sosiale’ ne 'asi ai ha ngaahi hingoa ‘o pehe ko e kau poate fo’ou ia kuo fokotu’utu’u ‘e he pule’anga’ ‘o hangē ko Siaosi Koloamatangi mo Loea Clive Edwards. Na’e pehe ‘e Hui ‘oku ‘ikai mo’oni ‘a e lipooti Feisipuka ko ia’.

The Cabinet was expected to receive a proposal of a new Rugby League Board to control the sport in Tonga, Vatau Hui, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Sports told Kaniva News this morning.

He said in proposing the new board no former members of the two controversial boards which rowed about who was going to control Tonga league were proposed.

He said the government was trying to put an end to the ongoing infightings within the rugby league.

His comment came after Kaniva News said yesterday Hui vehemently denied allegations on Facebook that he has announced the government has set up another new Rugby League Board of its own and proposed it to the IRL.

Hui said this morning, what he was denying was the names of the board members shared on social media as government’s new board.

In that alleged list the Chair of the ousted Rugby Board Siaosi Koloamatangi and Secretary Lawyer Clive Edwards Jr had been named as members. Hui said this was not true.

IRL Request

Hui said his new proposed board to Cabinet was part of the government’s response to a request from IRL to Prime Minister Tu’i’onetoa.

Hui said the government’s proposed board will be submitted to the IRL.

In Tongan he said:  “ko e Poate ko ‘eni ko e fokotu’utu’u pe na’e tali mai ‘aki e tohi mei he IRL ki he ‘eiki Palemia ke fokotu’utu’u ange ai. ‘Oku ‘ikai ke mau fakahalaki ‘a e ngaahi feinga kotoa pe ‘a e ongo tafa’aki ka ko e me’a ‘eni ‘oku teuteu ‘e he Pule’anga ke ‘ave ki he IRL.”

He said he will release the names of the new board once they were approved by the Cabinet.

Hui’s response came after Hon Tu’i’onetoa told Kaniva News his government had been drafting Bills in a bid to settle down the long-running dispute within Tonga Rugby League and the International Rugby League (IRL) was made aware of what the government had been doing.

“I hope after Covid-19 we have a good talk about the Sport. And we have contacted IRL on that and IRL understands the government’s intention,” the Prime Minister said.

Hui said he has yet to receive contact from IRL regarding reports this week of a new board it set up for Tonga.

Reported New Governing Body

RNZ has reported this morning the opposition MP Semisi Sika, who was President of the Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) administration when it was dissolved by a court order, has been shortlisted for a key role in the kingdom’s proposed new governing body.

“An Implementation Committee, appointed by International Rugby League, has shortlisted Semisi Sika and the current Speaker of Parliament, Lord Fakafanua, to fulfil the role of independent chairman,” the Radio said.

The Implementation Committee of four included Tonga Sport Council Chair ‘Ikani Taliai, Suliana Mone, Konrad Hurrel and Gareth Holmes.

RIF reported two international players Will Hopoate and Tonga Captain Sika Manu were new Board members appointed by the Implementation Committee.

“As a part of the organisation’s proposed new governance structure, player representation on the board has been introduced and current international player Will Hopoate and former Tonga captain Sika Manu have been elected by the national team squad to take up those positions,” RIF reports.

“IRL CEO Nigel Wood has also been in contact with Prime Minister, Hon Pohiva Tu’ionetoa, and IRL would like to thank him and his government for their support and encouragement of this process. The government has committed to working closely with IRL to see the restoration of Tonga to the international rugby league community.

“Despite the world-wide constraints due to COVID-19 we are confident that the implementation committee will be able to conclude this process quickly and the new board representing the whole Tongan rugby League community will take up its position and submit their application for membership of International Rugby League.

“We look forward to seeing rugby league being played in the kingdom and the Tongan national team back in action as soon as circumstances permit.”

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