Tonga? I thought they were part of Samoa? Who are a part of Fiji…
Ok somewhere around the pacific islands is this nation known as Tonga. And they aren’t too shabby in the history books.
They’ve beaten Australia, France, Fiji and the Maori All Blacks in their time. Only that is very rare, and its hard to see it happening again this year.
Here are three things you need to know about Tonga heading into RWC 2015.
1. Capable of Anything on The Day
We can all imagine how intimidating it would be standing in front of fifteen Tongans ready do to their country proud on the world stage.
In 2011, France famously felt the wrath of a fired up Tongan team who toppled them in pool play 19-14 causing one of the biggest upsets of the tournaments, proving they can compete with the top teams.
Tonga has kept a large number of that team, with twelve members returning to see if they can stake a claim towards the knockout stages of the tournament.
2. Sona Taumalolo
Many of you will remember Chiefs and Hawkes Bay try scoring machine Sona Taumalolo, who now applies his trade with Grenoble in France.
Tonga’s game plan should be revolved around getting the pigskin close to the line and then setting Taumalolo up for the pick and go.
With his 112kg frame, he would be among the hardest player’s to stop one metre out from the line in the tournament.
Taumalolo who is known for his aggressive style of play has already gathered four tries in seventeen appearances for Tonga, which is a phenomenal record for a front row forward. One particularly memorable moment for Taumalolo was dotting down against the All Blacks in 2011.
In the 1995, 1997 and 2011 World Cups, Tonga has found someone in their team has been sent for an early shower. They are currently leading the charge when it comes to most red cards issued at the Rugby World Cup.
Discipline, or lack thereof, will be key for the Tongan team, as Wales proved in 2011 that it is tough work to win a Rugby World Cup match with only fourteen players on the park.
It will be interesting to see if they can maintain fifteen players on the park at all times to play to the best of their ability.
Tonga has found the pool play area hugely difficult to get through in the past, having never ventured in to the knockout stages of a Rugby World Cup.
Tonga should record easy wins against Namibia and Georgia.
It now starts to get difficult when they play the likes of New Zealand, who they have no chance in beating. I am willing to put myself to the sword in saying a fired up Tonga could give Argentina a good run, in the end just falling short.
It will not be a fairy-tale finish for Tonga this year, as again they will be packing their bags before knockout footy begins.