Asia Pacific Rugby League to take lead on Tonga

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission

The Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRL) is taking the lead on the future of Tonga’s international membership.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 25: Tonga fans during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Semi Final match between Tonga and England at Mt Smart Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

It comes after the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month dismissed an appeal by the former governing body, Tonga National Rugby League, over its expulsion from the International Rugby League (IRL).

Admitting a new Tongan member was not discussed at the IRL Board meeting two weeks ago but Secretary General Danny Kazandjian said the Asia Pacific Confederation

“will now assume formal responsibility for speaking to all Tongan parties on both the issue of the new membership and the world cup campaign.”

He said there is no requirement for an IRL member to be in place in time for the Rugby League World Cup, which is scheduled to kick off in October, but an entity must sign the tournament participation agreement.

Discussions are already underway with the Tonga government, the national team management and Tonga Ma’a Tonga Rugby League, who last year applied for full IRL membership.

The IRL also received a letter from the Tongan Prime Minister, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, and Kazandjian said there was a commonality of purpose in what both parties want to achieve.

“Now we will allow APRL to undertake its consultations with various stakeholders.”

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