22 Nov 2014

Sport: Rugby governance in Pacific a challenge - Tonga

5:53 am on 22 November 2014

The chair of the Tonga Rugby Union, Epeli Taione, says governance of the sport has been an ongoing issue in the Pacific for a long time.

Last month a group of senior Samoa internationals raised concerns regarding the governance and management of the Samoan Rugby Union and threatened to boycott this weekend's test against England.

The strike threat was later withdrawn.

Vinnie Wylie has this report.

Samoa's Pacific neighbours have also had their issues.

In 2010, the Tonga government intervened in their country's rugby administration in response to concerns from the International Rugby Board.

Epeli Taione was elected to lead it's replacement, the Tonga Rugby Union, in 2012.

And the International Rugby Board suspended direct funding to Fiji Rugby, citing its failure to implement key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms.

Epeli Taione is in Suva for talks with his Pacific counterparts and says a number of issues, including the Samoa dispute, general governance and player eligibility will be addressed.

"I'm not going to deny that a lot the problems that have happened in the past we bring it upon ourselves. It's a lot of work to be done and if you look at all these problems all are governance related. We're trying our best in Tonga to make sure that all those issues are addressed. We are slowly moving forward and I know there is a lot of work done behind the scenes at the moment in Samoa. I just hope that this is going to be resolved."

Epeli Taione says the Pacific countries are small but fiercely proud and it's important that they work together with a clear direction and strategy for the future of the sport.