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Rugby

Fiji’s thrashing of Tonga highlights local rugby troubles

The Flying Fijians 36 – 0 win over Ikale Tahi Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) is an indicator of widening disparity gaps of rugby development in the region.

The much-anticipated match was witnessed by thousands of fans with Tongan and Fijian flags seen all around the ground.

Fiji was ruthless in their attack, offloading at will and hitting the lines with sheer pace.

The game also marked the debut of former Wallaby Israel Folau and two former All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa and Salesi Piutau for Tonga.

But lack of cohesion, chemistry and team game management proved too costly for Tonga as they struggled for the majority of the game.

Fiji was relentless, scoring three tries in the first half through Tevita Ratuva, Jiuta Wainiqolo and Kalaveti Ravouvou, which saw the hosts leading 19-0.

The Flying Fijians 36 – 0 win over Ikale Tahi Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) is an indicator of widening disparity gaps of rugby development in the region. Picture: World Rugby Twitter

Then a penalty to Epeli Tuicuvu saw Fiji leading Tonga 22-0 going in to half time.

Fiji picked up where they left off in the second half and ran in two more tries to Tuicuvu and Vinaya Habosi, sealing Tonga’s fate at 36 – 0.

Despite the win, Fiji coach Verner Cotter said they made too many mistakes which prevented them from scoring even more points.

“There were times when we were throwing un-necessary passes and mistakes that made the game harder for us,” Cotter said.

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Tonga coach Toutai Kefu said the result was disappointing, but they would continue to try and get their combinations together.

“We have been together for two weeks, yes the results are disappointing, but we will work on our combinations moving forward,” Kefu said.

Not giving any excuses for their loss, Kefu acknowledged they lost to a better team. For the team to be able to gel they must spend more time together including actual game time.

The Flying Fijians 36 – 0 win over Ikale Tahi Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) is an indicator of widening disparity gaps of rugby development in the region. Picture: World Rugby Twitter

While the Fijian crowd were cheering many also felt sorry for the Tongans. Some were posting on social media that they didn’t know whether to cheer or cry.

Others outlined how disgusted they felt with what has become of the sport they love. Never in the history of Pacific Rugby has Tonga performed so poorly in the PNC.

Kefu highlighted that if teams like Tonga, Samoa and Fiji could play more tests, they would be more competitive.

“Now we have the Moana Pasifika program so that is good for us, for our players,” he said.

Tier one nations like New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia play at least 10 test matches per year. Fiji plays more quality test matches per year compared to Tonga and Samoa.

Tonga will play Manu Samoa and Fiji will face Australia A at Churchill Park, Lautoka on July 9.

 

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