Tonga national rugby league (TNRL) have been expelled from International Rugby League. The announcement comes after a year of controversy for the island nation, when former Mate Ma’a Tonga coach Kristian Woolf was sacked in 2019. Mate Ma’a Tonga players then rallied round Woolf and formed the invitational team ‘Kau To’a’.
The invitational team had a rough start, losing to the Cook Islands, but then conquered Great Britain 14-6 in October 2019.
Due to Kau To’as’ unofficial status, they are not affected by the expulsion. They will continue to be free to play on the invitational basis that they are now employed.
If and how Tonga qualify for the 2021 rugby league world cup is the main issue going forward.
International Rugby League says
At its Board meeting on 13 February, the Directors carefully considered the position of Tonga National Rugby League, which has been suspended since October 2019, in the light of a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders in the Tongan game. After that meeting, the Board wrote to TNRL, advising them of the resolution passed at that meeting, which is to expel TNRL from the membership. There is a process within the IRL constitution for dealing with membership issues, which IRL is following. TNRL has one week to appeal the Board’s decision. Should it choose to do so, the matter will be decided by the members in general meeting.
IRL will be making no further comments until due constitutional process is completed.