Not only has Tonga’s rise to prominence in recent years seen an increased quality in their on field performance, but an increased atmosphere as well, due to the unwavering active support of their nation.
Whenever Tonga have played a test since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, the Stadium is generally a sea of red, with notable examples being Tonga’s World Cup semi-final appearance against England and their game against Australia at Mt.Smart Stadium in 2018.
In addition to that, the Tongan fans bring a unique style of support and create a new and exciting atmosphere, singing hymns throughout everyday, that give you chills even if you’re watching the game from home.
This is where we must ask ourselves though, how much of an impact does the Tongan support have on the team and will they be able to perform at a high level without a large contingent of their fans throughout the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England.
Well Tonga are a world class side with world class players, so I don’t think that lack of active support will have too big an impact, however it will certainly be missed and may have a minor impact, it certainly did during the World Cup 9’s, as only a small contingent of the Tongan fan base were present at the event, with the side who were one of the favourites, going on to win just one match, obviously there would of been other contributing factors, however the substantial drop in support and subsequently the atmosphere played its part.
Don’t expect a completely different Tongan side at the 2021 World Cup due to the reduced number of fans at their games, however if Tonga are seemingly a bit off, especially in a big game, that could be a reason as to why.