Tonga national rugby union team

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Not to be confused with Tonga national rugby league team.
Tonga
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) ʻIkale Tahi
Emblem White dove
Union Tonga Rugby Football Union
Head coach Toutai Kefu
Captain Nili Latu
Most caps Nili Latu (43)
Top scorer Kurt Morath (338)
Top try scorer Fetu'u Vainikolo (15)
Home stadium Teufaiva Sport Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current 13 (as of 15 February 2016)
Highest 9 (2011)
Lowest 20 (2006)
First international
Tonga 9–6 Fiji
(Nuku'alofa, Tonga; 25 August 1924)
Biggest win
Tonga 119–0 South Korea
(Nuku'alofa, Tonga; 22 March 2003)
Biggest defeat
New Zealand 102–0 Tonga
(Albany, New Zealand; 16 June 2000)
World Cup
Appearances 7 (First in 1987)
Best result Pool stage, 1987, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015
Website www.tongarugbyunion.net

The Tonga National Rugby Union team is nicknamed ʻIkale Tahi (Sea Eagles). Like their Polynesian neighbours, the Tongans start their matches with a war dance – the Sipi Tau. They are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Samoa. The Ikale Tahi achieved a historic 19–14 victory over France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but having lost to New Zealand and Canada, were unable to achieve what would have been their first ever presence at the quarter-finals. On 24 November 2012, Tonga beat Scotland, at Pittodrie Stadium, 21–15 for their first victory over a traditional rugby power on a European pitch.

History[edit]

Rugby was brought to the region in the early 20th Century by sailors and missionaries and the Tonga Rugby Football Union was formed in late 1923. Tonga beat Fiji 9–6 in their first test in 1924 played in the capital Nukuʻalofa. However, Tonga lost the second test 14–3 and drew the decider 0–0.

Between 1924 and 1938 Tonga and Fiji played three test series every alternate year. Matches between the two Pacific nations were hard fought; many have claimed that the ancient feuding wars between the Islanders were transplanted onto the rugby field. Troubles during the third Test of Fiji’s 1928 tour to Tonga forced the game to be abandoned with Tonga leading 11–8. In 1954 Tonga played host to a touring Western Samoa.

Tonga beat New Zealand Māori in 1969 but had to wait until 1973 before they played their second test match a 30–12 defeat against Australia in Sydney. They got their revenge when they beat Australia in Ballymore, Brisbane 16–11, scoring four tries to two in June 1973. The following year they travelled to the Arms Park for a non-cap international against Wales, a game that ended in a 26–7 defeat.

The first Tongan tour to Great Britain was in 1974 when they played 10 games, including those in Wales against East Wales, Llanelli, North Wales, Newport, West Wales and a Wales XV. The only tour victory was by 18–13 in the opener against East Wales. The 'tests' were lost by 44–8 to a Scotland XV and by 26–7 to the Wales XV.

They remained a little-known quantity in Europe until 1986 when Wales embarked on a tour of Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa. Early in the game against Tonga Welsh flanker Mark Brown was flattened by three Tongan forwards, leading to a mass brawl involving the entire team except Malcolm Dacey and Mark Titley. Robert Jones describes the event in his book Raising The Dragon as "the worst brawl I have ever seen on a rugby field." At the post-match dinner Jonathan Davies was asked to give a few words in Welsh and as the hosts politely applauded he described them as "the dirtiest team I have ever played against!"

Tonga were drawn to play Wales again in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The previous meeting, plus the decision to rest some of the leading players, led to a poor Welsh performance though they managed to win 29–16. Tonga lost its other two games to Ireland (32–9) and Canada (37–4).

They failed to qualify for the 1991 Rugby World Cup. In 1994 they won the South Pacific championship on try count and so qualified for the Super 10, they finished bottom of their pool with only one point.

They qualified for the 1995 World Cup ahead of Fiji on points difference. Tonga managed only two victories in the next two World Cups, against the 29–11 Côte d'Ivoire in 1995 and Italy in 1999. The win over the Côte d'Ivoire brought tragedy when Ivorian winger Max Brito was left paralyzed.

June 1999 brought their greatest home victory, a 20–16 defeat of France in Nukuʻalofa over a touring France but in 2000 they were humiliated 102–0 (including 15 tries) by New Zealand.

After losing their first four matches to Fiji and Samoa, Tonga finished third in the Oceania qualifying group. As a result, they had to play home and away matches against Papua New Guinea, which they won 47–14 and 84–12, followed by a play-off against South Korea, who finished as runners-up in the Asian section. Tonga thrashed them 75–0 and 119–0.

At the 2003 Rugby World Cup Tonga lost all their games and finished bottom of their pool. Despite keeping Wales to 20–27, they were again thrashed by New Zealand 91–7.

In 2007 Tonga participated in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, winning 2 of their pool matches and nearly defeating the eventual champions, South Africa, in one of the most memorable and exciting games of the tournament, eventually going down 30–25.

Tonga achieved one of the greatest victories in Rugby World Cup history with their 19 – 14 win over France in the 2011 World Cup.

On 24 November 2012, Tonga beat Scotland, at Pittodrie Stadium, 21–15 for their first victory over a traditional rugby power on a European pitch

Sipi Tau[edit]

Main article: Kailao

Like a lot of the big Pacific rugby nations, Tonga has a pre-game war dance (Haka). The Sipi Tau is a form of the Kailao. Tonga perform the kailao/Sipi Tau prior to the commencement of a match. The kailao was originally a war dance that was imported to Tonga from Wallis Island. It is usually performed at both public and private ceremonies.

One of the most memorable performances in modern times of the Sipi Tau was during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, in Tonga's match against the All Blacks. The All Blacks began their traditional haka, and then Tonga answered to the haka through the sipi tau whilst the All Blacks were performing it, bringing the teams within metres of one another just prior to kick-off.[1]

Wins against Tier 1 nations[edit]

Overall Record[edit]

Top 30 rankings as of 11 July 2016[2]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 96.10
2 Steady  England 89.49
3 Steady  South Africa 86.32
4 Steady  Australia 84.43
5 Steady  Wales 82.49
6 Steady  Ireland 81.67
7 Steady  France 80.75
8 Steady  Scotland 80.44
9 Steady  Argentina 80.20
10 Steady  Fiji 75.49
11 Steady  Georgia 75.23
12 Steady  Japan 74.95
13 Steady  Italy 72.23
14 Steady  Samoa 71.37
15 Steady  Tonga 69.47
16 Steady  Romania 68.74
17 Steady  United States 65.60
18 Steady  Canada 64.53
19 Steady  Uruguay 63.56
20 Steady  Namibia 62.28
21 Steady  Russia 61.91
22 Steady  Hong Kong 59.03
23 Steady  Spain 58.79
24 Increase2  Kenya 58.58
25 Decrease1  Belgium 57.94
26 Decrease1  Germany 57.71
27 Steady  Ukraine 56.95
28 Steady  Chile 55.73
29 Steady  South Korea 54.85
30 Steady  Portugal 54.29
*Change from the previous week
Tonga's Historical Rankings
Tonga IRB World Rankings.png
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 1 November 2015[2]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Tongan national XV at test level up until 25 June 2016.[3]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Argentina 1 0 1 0 0% 16 45 −29
 Australia 4 1 3 0 25% 42 167 −125
 Australia A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 15 60 −45
 Canada 8 3 5 0 37.50% 155 193 −38
 Chile 1 1 0 0 100.00% 32 30 +2
 Cook Islands 3 3 0 0 100.00% 235 22 +213
 England 2 0 2 0 0.00% 30 137 −107
 England XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 17 37 −20
 Fiji 89 26 60 3 29.21% 1181 1747 −566
 France 5 2 3 0 40.00% 75 149 −74
 Georgia 5 2 3 0 40.00% 117 83 +34
 Ireland 2 0 2 0 0.00% 28 72 −44
 Italy 4 1 3 0 25.00% 63 137 −74
 Ivory Coast 1 1 0 0 100.00% 29 11 +18
 Japan 16 9 7 0 56.25% 440 379 +61
New Zealand Junior All Blacks 2 0 2 0 0.00% 23 77 −54
 Namibia 2 2 0 0 100% 55 35 +20
 New Zealand 5 0 5 0 0.00% 35 326 −291
 Māori 12 4 8 0 33.33% 165 319 −154
 Papua New Guinea 2 2 0 0 100.00% 131 26 +105
 Portugal 1 1 0 0 100.00% 24 19 +5
 Romania 2 1 1 0 50.00% 39 35 +4
 Samoa 62 25 33 4 40.32% 898 1075 −177
 Scotland 4 1 3 0 25.00% 58 136 −78
 Scotland XV 2 0 2 0 0.00% 13 67 −55
 South Korea 6 6 0 0 100.00% 464 66 +398
 South Africa 2 0 2 0 0.00% 35 104 −69
 United States 8 7 1 0 87.50% 221 117 +104
 Wales 7 0 7 0 0.00% 78 203 −125
 Wales XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 7 26 −19
 Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.00% 42 13 +29
Total 262 99 156 7 37.89% 4763 5913 -1150

World Cup Record[edit]

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 29 98 Automatically qualified
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991 Did not qualify 3 1 0 2 64 62
South Africa 1995 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 44 90 2 1 0 1 34 26
Wales 1999 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 47 171 7 2 0 5 317 241
Australia 2003 Pool Stage 4 0 0 4 46 178 8 4 0 4 398 178
France 2007 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 89 96 7 3 0 4 329 136
New Zealand 2011 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 80 98 Automatically qualified
England 2015 Pool Stage 4 1 0 3 70 130
Japan 2019 To be determined To be determined
Total 7/8 25 7 0 18 405 861 27 11 0 16 1142 643

Current squad[edit]

On 3 June, head coach Toutai Kefu announced a 28-man squad ahead of Tonga's June test against Georgia and 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying matches against Fiji and Samoa in the 2016 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup.[4]

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Anga’aelangi, SioneSione Anga’aelangi Hooker (1998-11-07) 7 November 1998 (age 17) 3 New Zealand Karaka
Taione, ElvisElvis Taione Hooker (1983-05-25) 25 May 1983 (age 33) 24 England Exeter Chiefs
Aholelei, EddieEddie Aholelei Prop (1981-12-03) 3 December 1981 (age 34) 9 England London Welsh
Faletau, SioneSione Faletau Prop (1988-06-20) 20 June 1988 (age 28) 3 New Zealand Sydenham
Malimali, FusiFusi Malimali Prop (1990-10-01) 1 October 1990 (age 25) 1 Unattached
Puafisi, SilaSila Puafisi Prop (1988-04-15) 15 April 1988 (age 28) 25 Scotland Glasgow Warriors
Sakalia, KamaKama Sakalia Prop (1985-08-23) 23 August 1985 (age 30) 9 Tonga Marist 'Apifo'ou
Tameifuna, BenBen Tameifuna Prop (1991-08-30) 30 August 1991 (age 24) 0 France Racing 92
Faleafa, DanielDaniel Faleafa Lock (1989-02-13) 13 February 1989 (age 27) 7 France Albi
Kolo'ofai, UiliUili Kolo'ofai Lock (1982-09-29) 29 September 1982 (age 33) 8 England Jersey
Fonua, OpetiOpeti Fonua Flanker (1986-05-26) 26 May 1986 (age 30) 11 England Leicester Tigers
Kalamafoni, SioneSione Kalamafoni Flanker (1988-05-18) 18 May 1988 (age 28) 31 England Gloucester
Latu, NiliNili Latu (c) Flanker (1982-02-19) 19 February 1982 (age 34) 46 England Newcastle Falcons
Ram, JackJack Ram Flanker (1987-01-14) 14 January 1987 (age 29) 8 New Zealand Blues
Tau, SioneSione Tau Flanker (1989-02-21) 21 February 1989 (age 27) 3 France Agen
Fihaki, ViliamiViliami Fihaki Number 8 (1987-01-17) 17 January 1987 (age 29) 8 England Sale Sharks
Mafi, MikaeleMikaele Mafi Number 8 (1987-05-29) 29 May 1987 (age 29) 0 New Zealand Southern
Ngaluafe, WayneWayne Ngaluafe Scrum-half (1988-10-13) 13 October 1988 (age 27) 1 Australia West Harbour
Takulua, SonataneSonatane Takulua Scrum-half (1991-01-11) 11 January 1991 (age 25) 17 England Newcastle Falcons
Fosita, LatiumeLatiume Fosita Fly-half (1992-07-25) 25 July 1992 (age 23) 18 New Zealand Papatoetoe
Naufahu, MartinMartin Naufahu Fly-half (1990-07-08) 8 July 1990 (age 26) 1 Australia Footscray
Katoa, OtuleaOtulea Katoa Centre (1991-04-26) 26 April 1991 (age 25) 9 Scotland Edinburgh
Ma’afu, ApakukiApakuki Ma’afu Centre (1987-10-03) 3 October 1987 (age 28) 3 Australia Randwick
Tuitavake, NafiNafi Tuitavake Centre (1989-01-29) 29 January 1989 (age 27) 1 France Narbonne
Halaifonua, DavidDavid Halaifonua Wing (1987-07-05) 5 July 1987 (age 29) 18 England Gloucester
Iongi, ViliameViliame Iongi Wing (1989-08-08) 8 August 1989 (age 26) 21 United States San Francisco Rush
Kilioni, DanielDaniel Kilioni Wing (1993-02-22) 22 February 1993 (age 23) 2 France Grenoble
Hakalo, ViliamiViliami Hakalo Fullback (1987-04-12) 12 April 1987 (age 29) 9 England Nottingham
Hala, KaliKali Hala Fullback (1991-03-06) 6 March 1991 (age 25) 2 New Zealand Karaka

Individual all-time records[edit]

Most caps[edit]

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Won Lost Draw %
1. Nili Latu Flanker 2006– 43 42 1 23 4 0 1 0 18 24 1 43.02
2. Vunga Lilo Fullback 2007– 42 39 3 87 12 3 7 0 19 23 0 45.23
3. Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1990–2005 41 40 1 50 8 2 2 0 15 26 0 36.58
4. Pierre Hola Fly-half 1998–2009 39 38 1 317 11 68 39 3 13 26 0 33.33
Benhur Kivalu Number 8 1998–2005 39 35 4 40 8 0 0 0 14 24 1 37.17
6. Aleki Lutui Hooker 1999– 38 30 8 25 5 0 0 0 12 25 1 32.89
7. Manu Vunipola Scrum-half 1987–1999 36 31 5 9 2 0 0 0 12 23 1 34.72
8. Fe'ao Vunipola Hooker 1988–2001 34 32 2 15 3 0 0 0 13 20 1 39.70
9. Ephraim Taukafa Hooker 2002–2011 33 17 16 30 6 0 0 0 14 19 0 42.42
Viliami Vaki Lock 2001–2008 33 26 7 35 7 0 0 0 9 24 0 27.27

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most tries[edit]

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1. Fetu'u Vainikolo Wing 2011– 24 23 1 75 15 0 0 0
2. Josh Taumalolo Centre 1996–2007 26 23 3 118 14 6 12 0
3. Vunga Lilo Fullback 2007– 41 38 3 87 12 3 7 0
4. Pierre Hola Fly-half 1998–2009 39 38 1 317 11 68 39 3
5. Fepikou Tatafu Centre 1996–2002 23 21 2 50 10 0 0 0
6. Viliame Iongi Wing 2011–2013 18 12 6 40 8 0 0 0
Benhur Kivalu Number 8 1998–2005 39 35 4 40 8 0 0 0
Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1990–2005 41 40 1 50 8 2 2 0
9. 5 players on 7 tries

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Leading point scorers[edit]

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1. Kurt Morath Fly-half 2009– 30 25 5 338 2 47 78 0
2. Pierre Hola Fly-half 1998–2009 39 38 1 317 11 68 39 3
3. Sateki Tu'ipulotu Fullback 1993–2003 20 19 1 190 5 33 32 1
4. Fangatapu Apikotoa Fly-half 2004–2014 30 20 10 147 2 40 19 0
5. Josh Taumalolo Centre 1996–2007 26 23 3 118 14 6 12 0
6. Gustavo Tonga Fullback 1996–2001 13 12 1 114 1 32 15 0
7. Vunga Lilo Fullback 2007– 42 39 3 87 12 3 7 0
8. Fetu'u Vainikolo Wing 2011– 25 24 1 75 15 0 0 0
9. Fepikou Tatafu Centre 1996–2002 23 21 2 50 10 0 0 0
Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1990–2005 41 40 1 50 8 2 2 0

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most points in a match[edit]

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1. Pierre Hola Centre 44 2 17 0 0  South Korea Tonga Nuku'alofa 22/03/2003
2. Fangatapu Apikotoa Fly-half 30 2 10 0 0  South Korea New Zealand Henderson 10/02/2007
3. Sateki Tu'ipulotu Fullback 27 1 8 2 0  South Korea South Korea Seoul 04/05/1999
4. Pierre Hola Fullback 24 0 9 1 1  Papua New Guinea Tonga Nuku'alofa 07/12/2002
5. Gustavo Tonga Fullback 23 1 9 0 0  Cook Islands Tonga Nuku'alofa 05/07/1997
6. Benhur Kivalu Fly-half 20 4 0 0 0  South Korea Tonga Nuku'alofa 22/03/2003
Viliame Iongi Centre 20 4 0 0 0  United States England Esher 08/06/2011
Kurt Morath Fly-half 20 0 4 4 0  Fiji Fiji Lautoka 02/07/2011
9. 3 players on 19 points

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most tries in a match[edit]

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1. Benhur Kivalu Number 8 20 4 0 0 0  South Korea Tonga Nuku'alofa 22/03/2003
Viliame Iongi Wing 20 4 0 0 0  United States England Esher 08/06/2011
3. Josh Taumalolo Fly-half 15 3 0 0 0  Cook Islands Tonga Nuku'alofa 05/07/1997
Josh Taumalolo Fullback 17 3 1 0 0  Georgia Georgia (country) Tbilisi 28/03/1999
Jonathan Koloi Flanker 15 3 0 0 0  South Korea South Korea Seoul 04/05/1999
Viliami Hakalo Wing 15 3 0 0 0  Cook Islands Cook Islands Raratonga 24/06/2006
7. 46 players on 2 tries

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most matches as captain[edit]

# Player Pos Span Mat Won Lost Draw % Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1. Nili Latu Flanker 2006– 39 15 23 1 39.74 23 4 0 1 0
2. Inoke Afeaki Lock 2001–2003 12 4 8 0 33.33 15 3 0 0 0
3. Fakahau Valu Flanker 1977–1987 11 0 11 0 0.00 12 3 0 0 0
4. Aleki Lutui Hooker 2004–2011 9 1 8 0 11.11 5 1 0 0 0
Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1999–2001 9 4 5 0 44.44 15 3 0 0 0
6. Sione Mafi Pahulu Number 8 1973–1975 7 1 6 0 14.28 15 3 0 1 0
7. Siaosi Atiola Number 8 1987–1990 6 1 4 1 25.00 4 1 0 0 0
8. Mana Otai Number 8 1995 5 3 2 0 60.00 5 1 0 0 0
Fe'ao Vunipola Hooker 1994–1998 5 2 3 0 40.00 0 0 0 0 0
10. 5 players on 4 matches

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Youngest players[edit]

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# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1. Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 17 years and 292 days  Fiji Tonga Nukualofa 24/03/1990
2. Viliami Hakalo (Wing) 18 years and 182 days  Japan Japan Fukuoka 04/06/2006
3. Sione Kalamafoni (Flanker) 18 years and 268 days  South Korea New Zealand Henderson 10/02/2007
4. Soane Havea Scrum-half 18 years and 292 days  New Zealand New Zealand North Shore City 16/06/2000
5. Semi Taupeaafe Wing 18 years and 317 days  Fiji Fiji Suva 11/06/1991
6. Sinali-Tui Latu Number 8 18 years and 320 days  Fiji Fiji Suva 07/07/1984
7. Unuoi Va'enuku Centre 19 years and 51 days  France South Africa Pretoria 26/05/1995
8. Pita Alatini Centre 19 years and 119 days  Samoa Tonga Nuku'alofa 08/07/1995
9. Tevita 'Ahoafi (Scrum-half) 19 years and 171 days  Australia A Australia Sydney 25/05/2007
10. Isi Tapueluelu Centre 19 years and 176 days  Fiji Tonga Nuku'alofa 24/03/1990

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Oldest players[edit]

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1. Aleki Lutui Hooker 37 years and 95 days  Argentina England Leicester 04/10/2015
2. Hale T-Pole (Number 8) 36 years and 152 days  Namibia England Exeter 29/09/2015
3. Rudi Kapeli Hooker 35 years and 311 days  Australia Australia Brisbane 04/07/1993
4. Tukulua Lokotui Lock 35 years and 282 days  New Zealand England Newcastle 09/10/2015
5. Kuli Faletau Lock 35 years and 185 days  Canada Tonga Nuku'alofa 03/07/1999
6. Ephraim Taukafa Hooker 35 years and 80 days  Canada New Zealand Whangarei 14/09/2011
7. Hemani Lavaka Prop 34 years and 292 days  Canada Australia Wollongong 29/10/2003
8. Tonga Lea'aetoa Prop 34 years and 168 days  Fiji Fiji Lautoka 19/08/2011
9. Kisi Pulu Prop 34 years and 144 days  Fiji Fiji Lautoka 23/06/2012
10. Taufa'ao Filise Prop 34 years and 118 days  Japan New Zealand Whangarei 21/09/2011

Last updated: Tonga vs New Zealand, 9 October 2015. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Coaches[edit]

Name Span Mat Won Lost Draw %
New Zealand Jim Love 2001–2003 19 6 13 0 31.58
Australia Willie Ofahengaue 2004–2005 8 0 8 0 0.00
Australia Adam Leach 2006–2007 7 5 2 0 71.43
Tonga Quddus Fielea 2007–2010 16 5 11 0 31.25
New Zealand Isitolo Maka 2010–2011 14 7 7 0 50.00
Australia Toutai Kefu (caretaker) 2012 3 1 2 0 33.33
Tonga Mana Otai 2012–2015 24 11 12 1 47.91
Australia Toutai Kefu 2016–

Notable Former Players[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]