Historic Tonga tour announced for Queensland Reds

Fri, May 17, 2024, 4:28 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit
George Blake
George Blake

The Queensland Reds women’s and men's teams will travel to Tonga on July 26 to play historic international matches against Tonga's Ikale Tahi national sides at the Teufaiva Sports Stadium.

The matches are part of the ongoing support of Tongan rugby by the Australian Government, Rugby Australia, and the Queensland Reds through the Australia-Pacific Rugby Union Partnership (APRUP). The partnership helps bring our nations closer together through a shared love of rugby union.

The men’s match will be the second international game in a week for the Reds, following the game against Wales at Suncorp Stadium on July 19. It will also be the first time the Reds women have played offshore in a history now spanning 28 years.

The Tonga tour adds to a blockbuster series of post-Super Rugby games against international and elite club opposition, including Japan's Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights in November and the northern hemisphere tour in January 2025 against European sides, including English club Bristol.

The tour will also provide vital match experience for the Tongan sides ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup and Tonga’s qualification for World Rugby’s new WXV women’s rugby tournament.

The tour has the support of the Australian Government's PacificAus Sports program and will include community and high-performance activities in Tonga ahead of the matches. These activities include coaching clinics, women in rugby leadership sessions, and community school visits to enhance inclusive rugby pathways in Tonga and further strengthen Australia and Tonga’s close ties.

This will be the first time Queensland Reds men have played Tonga since 1995 and will be the first-ever match-up for the women.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP:

“Australia and Tonga share a long and storied sporting history. From Tonga’s iconic victory over the Wallabies in 1973, to 1999 World Cup-winning Wallaby, Toutai Kefu, whose father, Fatai, played in the 1973 Tongan team. These sporting memories are a source of strength and unity between our nations".

“The Albanese Government is proud to be partnering with Rugby Australia and the Queensland Reds through PacificAus Sports to further the development of women’s and men’s rugby in Tonga at the professional and community levels. “We look forward to seeing the next generation of Tongan rugby stars emerge onto the world stage.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Reds CEO, David Hanham:

"We can’t wait to travel to Tonga and deepen ties with our Tongan rugby family. This year, we had three of Tonga's best coaches working with our women's team under the PacificAus Sports program, and this tour will further strengthen the partnership between our two rugby unions.

 "The matches are part of the Reds' post-Super Rugby International program, which features a home game against Wales and away matches against Tonga, Japan's Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights, and English club Bristol”.

Quotes attributable to Tongan and Penina Pasifika halfback, Ana Ngahe:

"From watching professional women’s rugby on TV to witnessing them in real life, it will be a life-changing moment for our Tongan local girls. There will be so much excitement from our players and fans. I have no doubt that there will be an even higher level of support for women's rugby in Tonga after this game. Something I am very grateful for”.

Quotes attributable to Tongan National Women’s Head Coach, Eddie Aholelei:

"The people of Tonga are very excited to have the Queensland Reds Super Rugby and Super Rugby Women's teams visiting our shores. This is great news for Tongan Rugby and the people of Tonga.

"We witnessed the tremendous support of Tongan rugby fans during the first-ever Super Rugby Pacific game played in Tonga earlier this year, and we believe that this upcoming tour will be even bigger, thanks to the Australian Government's support”.

“This year, I was a part of the PacificAus Sports coaching development program to the Reds, and I was fortunate enough to be promoted to the assistant coaching role with the Reds Super Rugby Women's team during the season.

"The Australian Government has been a great supporter of my professional development and Tongan sport, providing players and coaches with pathways to achieving their goals”.

Quotes attributable to Queensland Reds No.8, Harry Wilson:

"It's exciting to have back-to-back matches in the Queensland jersey against two very different international sides.

 "I was lucky enough to travel to Tonga last year with Australia A so I know how awesome the local crowd is. They only cheer for one team but that's pretty cool being on the other side of it. The ground was so packed people were watching from trees.

 "I'll definitely be fit in July to be considered for a great trip."