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Fans go wild at historic Pacific milestone

Tonga’s rugby league team has achieved another milestone, with the International Rugby League ranking the nation as the world number two.

New Zealand is number one while England and Australia are three and four respectively.

There are no greater examples of die hard sporting fans than Tongans. In the recent Pacific rugby league test in New Zealand, the Kiwis entered Mount Smart Stadium in New Zealand to a sea of red flags, while the Kiwi fans were barely visible.

To get the reactions of fans to the news that their team was now ranked higher than the traditional league powerhouse nations, The Pacific Advocate spoke to Tongan students at the University of the South Pacific.

Twenty five year old Natalie Heimuli of Kolomotu’a, Nukuʻalofa, said this news made all Tongans proud.

“We are looking forward to watching our team play in the upcoming 2022 Rugby League World Cup. To be world number two is a huge achievement and it has made every Tongan here at home and overseas very happy,” Heimuli said.

Talei Mamafainoa said the ranking had made things even more exciting as the World Cup approached. “We are so proud of their achievements and I can’t wait to watch them in the Rugby League World Cup” she said.

Tonga’s rugby league team has achieved another milestone, with the International Rugby League ranking the nation as the world number two. Pic- Tonga Rugby League

“I will be sure to wear my Tongan colors and cheer my heart out”

Another fan Asinate Raratabu said it was moments like these that made a nation feel good especially when things have been affected by external factors such natural disasters and the pandemic.

“Mate Ma’a Tonga All the Way. So proud of their achievement, Go Tonga Go,” she said.

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This is the highest ranking ever to be achieved by any Pacific island team in the history of the sport.

The IRL rankings are based on the results of the last four years. The number one ranked team has 100 points while from second place onwards they are expressed as a percentage.

New Zealand is most likely to head into the 2022 RLWC as world number one, Tonga is second with 68 points, England is third with 64, and reigning world champions Australia have slipped back into fourth place with 52.

Papua New Guinea has catapulted to fifth place with 36 points after their recent 24-14 victory over the Fiji Bati at Campbelltown Stadium.

Fiji is sixth with 29 points and Samoa seventh with 17.

The Tonga National Rugby League was contacted for comment but no response was received.

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