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On 21-09-11 evening I sat at Whangarei Event Centre with 18,000 strong rugby fans screaming, shouting, and cheering fans for Tonga and Japan.

There could only be one winner tonight for the winner the accolades of victory, and the loser the failure of another Rugby World Cup campaign.

Standing at the entrance tunnel I felt peace and calmness within although in my heart I could see and feel the disappointment and anguish in the Japanese players, management, and supporters faces. The dream of a successful Rugby World Cup campaign coming to an erupt end and in the eightieth minute.Looking at the Tongan management and International Rugby Board personnel standing alongside me I could see the broad smiles on their faces. Handshakes where made well before the eightieth minute when the end result was evident who were the victors.

The sound of the long whistle blown by the referee in the eightieth minute signalled the end of a week-long of torment & heart ache for the Tongan team, and five years of winless games against Japan.

The week-long preparation by the team begun slowly in Paihia and Whangarei, after Tonga lostto Canada in a test match that Tonga was expected by many for Tonga to win in their round two RWC pool play, there was a lot of soul searching and much doubt in our capabilities within the team to be competitive against Japan’s superior rugby technique, skills and fitness.

This evening all the negativity and doubts were dispelled and the rugby history books recorded the Ikale Tahi 31 beat Japan 18victorious in Whangarei Event Centre.



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Official RWC 2011 Team

17. Viliame Volavola 'IONGI 8. Sione Ma'ake KALAMAFONI 25. William Fetu'ufuka Ukumaki Aorere HELU 28. Latu Alipate H. Naqasima FATAFEHI 30. Taufa'ao FILISE 7. Joseph Mark Laifone TU'INEAU 20. Sukanaivalu Ikavuka HUFANGA 9. Samiu Kaufusi VAHAFOLAU 22. Vungakoto Filimone LILO 29. 'Aleki 'Aho LUTUI 19. Alaska Nikolasi TAUFA 16. Kurt Stanley MORATH 13. 'Aloisio 'Ilaisia Ma'asi 3. Kisi PULU 27. Fetu'umoana VAINIKOLO 6. Kelekolio Paino HEHEA 12. Ephraim TAUKAFA 15. Thomas Ta'ufo'ou PALU 10. Finau MAKA 4.  Halani 'AULIKA 2. Faka'anaua ki 'Alisona TAUMALOLO