19 Jun 2012

Sport: Tonga targets promotion to elite junior rugby tournament

10:45 am on 19 June 2012

The Chairman of the Tonga Rugby Union says it is vital that Tonga's Under 20 team wins promotion to the top tier of youth rugby.

Tonga play their first match at the second tier Junior World Rugby Trophy in Salt Lake City on Tuesday against host nations the USA.

The winner is promoted to play in the Junior World Championship, alongside heavyweights like New Zealand and South Africa.

Epeli Taione it's important for Tongan rugby that the next generation is mixing with the superpowers.

"I think we do have the players, I think we do have the talent, however, it will be a hard slog for us but one that we are quite confident that will happen. Our main role - same as the sevens role - is to be involved in the main competition. The Under 20s is possibly the most important thing - it's the best sort of feeder for the national team and it is the stepping stone for every development in the HP program."