18 Feb 2017

Tonga won't host rugby test against Wales

9:33 am on 18 February 2017

Wales' rugby test against Tonga in June will be staged in another country because Welsh Rugby Union concerns over the suitability of the stadium in Nuku'alofa could not be satisfied.

Tonga rugby players celebrate.

Tonga's test against Wales is likely to be held in Auckland. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The game is now likely to take place in Auckland on 17 June.

The WRU had expressed doubts over the readiness of Teufaiva Sport Stadium in Nuku'alofa, which is being redeveloped.

Another concern was the availability of medical cover should a serious injury occur.

Delegations from World Rugby and the WRU visited Tonga in December to see whether sufficient progress had been made, but concerns remained that the pitch will not be fit for purpose.

The match is now likely to take place the day before the British and Irish Lions take on New Zealand Maori in Rotorua, while Wales' game in Samoa will go ahead as planned in Apia on 24 June.

Tonga has rarely had the the opportunity to host tier-one nations. The last time Wales toured the islands was more than 20 years ago, in 1994.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "World Rugby shares in Tonga's disappointment that this match will be moved given the huge effort made by the Tongan Rugby Union (TRU) to date.

"But the decision was jointly agreed by the WRU and World Rugby with the objective of ensuring that the fixture can go ahead albeit in a different location.

"We are working with our friends at the Tonga Rugby Union to deliver a match venue befitting of such an occasion and we remain committed to supporting the union with future test match hosting opportunities."

The WRU delayed confirming the fixture as they wanted the game to be hosted in Tonga if possible, according to chairman Gareth Davies.

"The TRU should be commended for their efforts in relation to the redevelopment of their national stadium but unfortunately time has proved to be against us all and, although difficult, it is the right decision to move the game," he said.

Fans and travel companies had been in limbo for a number of months as they were unable to confirm itineraries for those wishing to travel.