Shute Shield Coaches On Tongan Mission

by Paul Cook - Samoa’s recent rise up the IRB world rankings to an all time high of 8th has blazed a trail for their Pacific neighbours in Tonga and Fiji to follow. Blessed with an abundance of natural talent, these rugby mad islands have been hamstrung in the past by a lack of funding and the inevitable player drain overseas as their top stars chase the rewards that simply aren’t available at home. While the IRB have increased their investment in recent years, more is still needed but there are certainly encouraging signs of improvement. The smallest of the three island nations, Tonga has a population of only 103,000 but 6,560 of those are registered rugby players - that’s over 6% of the country! They carved out their own slice of rugby folklore at the 2011 World Cup, defeating eventual
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