Rugby league: National holiday declared to celebrate Tonga triumph against Australia

  • 06/11/2019
Tonga players celebrate their monumental win.
Tonga players celebrate their monumental win. Photo credit: Photosport

Tonga is set to celebrate the historic rugby league wins over Australia and Great Britain with a public holiday and reception for players next Friday.

Last Saturday, Mate Ma'a stunned the rugby league world with their gritty 16-12 win over the Australians at Eden Park, just a week after they dispatched Great Britain in Hamilton.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu'i'onetoa offered his congratulations to coach Kristian Woolf and his "winning warriors" and confirmed the approval of a nationwide holiday on Friday November 15.

"Such is the spirit of immense joy, felicitations, and thankfulness conveyed," said Tu'i'onetoa. "For the outstanding, awe inspiring, and unique triumph of the Tonga Rugby League Invitational XIII over the reigning Australian and British Rugby League Teams."

Players are expected to begin arriving back in Tonga from early next week, but Woolf has left for the UK to take up his role as head coach of St Helens and won't be attending the festivities.

While political infighting with the suspended Tonga National Rugby League board meant the side were forced to play as the Tonga Invitational XIII, International Rugby League insisted their games retained test match status.

Tonga have already begun planning for a full-blown assault on the 2021 World
Cup, with the majority of the team still young enough to be in their prime in
two years' time.

"There's no doubt we can (win it)," Woolf said after Saturday night's win.
"We've just beaten Great Britain and we've just beaten Australia. And we've got
a lot of improvement from (Saturday night), too. That was a tough, gritty

Tonga's next matches will be in the Oceania Cup next year, likely against New
Zealand in a mid-year test.



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