Pool A - Tonga
Tonga head coach Quddus Fielea had unsuccessfully attempted to postpone naming his squad until high court proceedings between members of the Tonga rugby union had been completed. The court action was as a result of a split in the union that emerged earlier this year when three board members resigned amid accusations that the remaining four board members had been meeting in secret and making unauthorised decisions. The split, which threatens to leave the union in turmoil, will not have helped the team's preparations coming, as it does, so soon after a poor showing by Tonga in the 2007 Pacific Nations Cup: Tonga won only one match, against Fiji.
In 2003 Tonga won no games and their best chance of a victory in France looks to be in their opening match against USA. It's difficult to imagine them providing much opposition to England and South Africa, while the match against Samoa doesn't hold much hope given the result of the meeting between the two sides in this year's Pacific Nations Cup, when Samoa beat them 50-3.
Coach: Quddus Fielea (Tonga)
Captain: NIli Latu
IRB Ranking: 14
Appearances: 1987, 1995, 1999, 2003
Odds to win: 250/1
Number of clubs: N/A
Number of Registered players:10,236
Matches MT W D L
13 2 0 11
Points For Against
Scores Tr Con Pen DG
20 12 14 1
A fast and powerful number eight who excels in open play, twenty-seven year old Chris Hala'Ufia plays club rugby at Harlequins where he shone in 2007. Hala'Ufia is known to spearhead attacking play from the fringe of rucks and mauls where his strength allows him to break through tackles to bring other players into the motion. Will excite in Tonga's Pool games.
Latu who plays his grade with the Wellington Hurricanes in the Super 14 after years with first division outfit Bay of Plenty has plenty of experience in the New Zealand game. A typically hard, uncompromising and agreesive player Latu will lead Tonga's charge for the loose ball. Latu may struggle agianst bigger forwards but will never take a step back against any team.
At 6'6”, Vaki is a tall flanker who offers an additional line out option to Tonga. Expreienced at club and international level, Vaki plays for Perpignan, having moved from Gran Rugby in Italy in 2005. He was first capped for Tonga in 2001, several times in 2002 and again during the 2003 World Cup where he started in four games Italy, Wales and New Zealand
Rugby in Tonga
With a population of only 100,000 it is surprising that Tonga can even field a rugby side, much less compete as well as they have done. In recent years, as professional rugby has intensified, they have struggled to keep up. Unfortunately for Tonga, rugby is their main export and many players leave to play for Australia and New Zealand, including Willie Ofahengaue and, the greatest ever player of Tongan ancestry, Jonah Lomu. Like their Polynesian neighbours they start their match with a war dance - the sipi tau.