Rugby league in Tonga
|Rugby league in Tonga|
|Governing body||Tonga National Rugby League|
Tonga has one of the better rugby league competitions in the Pacific islands and produces some high standard players. Tonga is somewhat known for its exports to Rugby league's only major club competitions, the National Rugby League of Australia/New Zealand and the Super League of Europe.
The Tongan Rugby League competition comprises 12 teams in the first division, and 7 in the second. The 12 teams in the first division are:
- Capital Warriors
- Fuekafa Rabbitohs
- Ha'akame Broncos
- Ha'ateiho Spartans
- Halaloto Green Barbarians
- Havelu Bulldogs
- Kolomotu'a Eagles
- Lapaha Knights
- Lavengamalie Hurricanes
- Mu'a Saints
- Nakolo Raiders
- Silapeluua Crusaders
- Vaini Doves A
The 7 teams in the second division are:
- Ha'ateiho Crusaders
- Hihifo Rovers
- Houma Tigers
- Kolomu'a Warriors
- Puke-Hofa Turtles
- Silapeluua Crusaders
- Vaini Doves B
First and Second Division
There are 10 first division sides in the Global Insurance Cup and there are 9 in the second division. Only Kolomu'a Warriors (One of two Nuku'alofa Clubs) and the Vaini Doves have first and second division sides. The First Division sides have been, to a greater extent, regular participants in the competition since the inception of League in 1988. Those sides are Kolomu'a, Vaini, Mu'a Saints, Silapeluua (Ha'ateiho) Crusaders, Lapaha Knights, Ha'akame Broncos, Hihifo Rovers, Havelu Bulldogs, Halaloto Barbarians and Nakolo Raiders. The Second Division consists of a number of clubs that have participated infrequently over a number of years. However, regulars in the Second Division are Fatumu, Ha'ateiho Spartans and Ngalukilo Stormers.
The most recent competition (2013) was won by the Kolomua Warriors who defeated the Ha'akame Broncos in the grand final at Teufaiva Stadium in front of approximately 2 000 spectators.
Secondary Schools Competition started in 2007 with 5 teams in the under 18s competition and 8 teams in the Under 16s. Takuilau High School won the Under 18s competition and Liahona High School won the Under 16s competition. It is the largest number of teams and players participating in rugby league in Tongan history, with the National Schools Committee starting the Under 12s, Under 14s and Under 15s in 2008.
In 2013 the Secondary Schools Competition featured 8 schools with teams competing in Under 13s, Under 15s, Under 17's and Open's competitions. Tupou High School finished open age champions with Tonga College winning the U17's and Tupou College winning the Under 15's and U13's competition. Primary school rugby league was also introduced with Maufanga/Fanga and ACTS Community School winning the inaugural tournaments.
TNRL estimate that there are roughly 1,500 players playing rugby league in Tonga for 2007.
Rugby League first came to the islands in 1986, with first international competition in the Pacific Cup in 1986 and it was held at Rarotonga and won by the NZ Maori.
After early promise the game took a turn for the worse during the Super League war, which not only affected the elite competitions in Europe and Australia but also the game in the Pacific Islands. This was followed by a fall in revenue from the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, and the banning of cigarette sponsorship in Tonga almost saw the game disappear. Although, it didn't and the game was brought back for the TNRL domestic competition in 2006. In 2007, schools started to play and in 2008, had more divisions.
The National Team
Main Article: Tonga national rugby league team
Since Tonga began competing in international Rugby League it has participated in the Pacific Cup (since 1986), World Sevens (1994–2003), World Cup (since 1995), Superleague World Nines (1996,1997), Superleague Oceania Tournament (1997), Papua New Guinea Fiftieth Anniversary Competition (1998) and Pacific Rim (2004) competitions.
- Tongan National Rugby League
- Tonga National Rugby League
- Tonga national rugby league team
- Tonga women's national rugby league team