Nickname: Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles)
Honors: (2) Pacific Tri-Nations Championships
Anthem: Ko e fasi ʻo e tuʻi ʻo e ʻOtu Tonga (song of the king of the Tonga Islands)
Traditions: Sipi Tau
World Rugby Shop - buy Tonga rugby gear
Nicknamed Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles), Tonga, like their Polynesian neighbours, start their matches with a war dance - the Kailao (aka the Sipi Tau). They are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Samoa.
Rugby was brought to the region in the early 20th Century by sailors and missionaries and the Tonga Rugby Football Union was formed in late 1923.
They remained a little-known quantity in Europe until 1986 when Wales embarked on a tour of Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa. Early in the game against Tonga Welsh flanker Mark Brown was flattened by three Tongan forwards, leading to a mass brawl involving the entire team except Malcolm Dacey and Mark Titley. Robert Jones describes the event in his book Raising The Dragon as "the worst brawl I have ever seen on a rugby field." At the post-match dinner Jonathan Davies was asked to give a few words in Welsh and as the hosts politely applauded he described them as "the dirtiest team I have ever played against!"
Like many of the surrounding island nations, Tonga has a difficult time putting together a strong national side because of so many players being lured overseas to play in the more lucrative foreign rugby unions. Tongans, like most islanders in rugby, are renowned for their physicality and toughness.
'E 'Otua Mafimafi,
Ko ho mau 'Eimi koe,
Ko Koe ko e falala 'anga,
Mo e 'ofa ki Tonga:
'Afio hifo 'emau lotu
'Aia 'oku mau fai ni,
Mo ke tali ho mau loto
'O malu'i 'a Tupou.
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