Sport: Tonga Rugby boss says players weren't good enough
The head of the Tonga Rugby Union says questions need to be asked after the country's dismal performance at the Rugby World Cup.
The head of the Tonga Rugby Union has blasted the country's performance at the Rugby World Cup.
The 'Ikale Tahi were stunned 17-10 by Georgia in their opening match of the tournament and ultimately ended up fourth in Pool C, missing the quarter finals and automatic qualification for the next World Cup.
The President and Chair of the Tonga Rugby Union, Epeli Taione, told Vinnie Wylie the team didn't perform when it mattered.
EPELI TAIONE: We basically finished before we even started. We didn't respect Georgia enough and it's something that really sort of basically haunts us for a long time.
VINNIE WYLIE: For all three Pacific countries I guess it was a disappointing tournament. The real talking point of this tournament, in terms of performance-wise, has a lot of the tier two and three countries even: the likes of Georgia and obviously Japan winning three games. Why do you think those teams have had such a great World Cup and really bridged the gap with the top nations, and the Pacific teams haven't?
ET: It's not good enough at the end of the day to be honest with you and we can make up as much excuses as we can - we were not good enough. Whether it's in the management, whether it's in the players or selection, I don't know. We will find out in a full enquiry but at the end of the day we were just not good enough. That's the most disappointing thing. We have a place up there, we were good enough to make the playoffs - no shadow of a doubt about that - it's just the fact that when it matters we didn't turn up, no excuses. We were very poor, we were absoutely outplayed on the day. For all four weeks to come down to that it's just not acceptable. I just don't understand what happened and why did we lose to Georgia the way we did? It's just hard to take - it's really really really really hard to take. Maybe we're just not bloody good enough at the end of the day.
VW: As the organisation in charge in Tonga how much responsibility do you take for the performances?
ET: Everything stops with me. I'm the President and Chairman of Tongan Rugby and whoever's in charge at the moment is people that I've put in and have faith there, the country has faith in them, and it stops with me. All of us have to go back to Tonga and we have to account on these performances. By any means if I have to fall on my own sword then so be it. It needs now that the three Pacific Islands, and in my case Tonga, to be brutally honest now when it matters. Players on the day didn't turn up, for whatever reason - we will find out. Like I said, if by any means it's coaches and management or me that has to fall on our swords then so be it. The whole World Cup campaign is not acceptable, it's awful and it's something that people have to be [held to] account for this.
VW: Obviously, off the back of being knocked out, and it goes for all three Pacific countries, is that you all now need to qualify for the next World Cup. Are you aware of what that process is and how that will go because there's a lot of talk that potentially now only two of the three Pacific countries will actually get to be at 2019?
ET: At the moment it still stands on the old qualification process. If that will be the case then yes we are looking at only two Pacific Island [countries] but we will have a look on how World Rugby will view that on the Council and on the Executive but there's a strong risk of one of the Pacific Island teams being pumped out in the wilderness.
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