The rugby league history of Tonga
Formed to take part in the 1986 Pacific Cup, Tonga have made huge inroads in recent years. The Tongans have competed at five World Cups – 2021 will be their sixth – and achieved their best-ever result of getting to the semi-finals in 2017, only narrowly missing out to England for a place in the final by 18-20 after beating New Zealand 28-22.
Tonga have won two Pacific Cups (1994 and 2006), but that pales into insignificance when considering that Tonga became the first nation in 41 years – other than New Zealand – to beat Australia in November 2019. A 16-12 victory, straight from the heart made it three wins from three over Tier One nations (Tonga had beaten Great Britain 14-6 the week before).
The attraction of Tonga as a force in world Rugby League has led to a number of high-profile ‘switching’ of allegiances, including the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita which has helped raise the tiny Pacific island nation’s profile even further.
And, they will be hunting a top three international ranking as the 2021 World Cup creeps nearer.