29 May 2012

Sport: Tongan rugby boss says Union must win back trust

10:42 am on 29 May 2012

The inaugural Chairman of the Tonga Rugby Union says the administration must win back the faith of the Tongan people.

The former 'Ikale Tahi international Epeli Taione was elected President and Chair of the Union at a Special General Meeting on Saturday.

The new set-up followed the expiration of a two-year ordinance, imposed by the Tonga government, to address IRB concerns over how the union was being run.

Epeli Taione chaired his first board meeting on Monday and says he decided to take on the challenge after being sounded out by a number of ex teammates.

"Pretty much everyone was pushing for it and that's why I accepted the nomination and the biggest challenge for me and the board is to make sure that we win back the confidence of the stakeholders in rugby - the IRB, the players and, most importantly, the supporters."

The IRB's Regional General Manager for Oceania, Will Glenwright, says a strong platform is in place for the new administration to build from.

We've spent a lot of time and money in developing an updated constitution that reflects what we would consider to be modern corporate governance principles. All of the provincial and outer island unions were consulted in developing that constitution and we are pleased that a new board has being elected within the framework of that constitution so we head into a new era and we now progress in working with the Tonga Rugby Union, who are the peak body now for rugby in Tonga, working to grow the game over there.

Will Glenwright says the IRB will continue to work closely with Tongan Rugby officials to ensure there is not a repeat of the infighting and instability that plagued the former administration.