Rugby ball and bible have been the cement in Tongan society

“The Christian (sic) Brothers took rugby to the islands and a combination of ball and bible has been the cement in Tongan society ever since,” according to Mike Averis, writing in the Guardian.

He may possibly be referring to the Marist Brothers, and the Marist Fathers, many of whom played a prominent part in rugby in Tonga, including some who rose to the level of international referees.

The team tunes into Radio Tonga to listen to the prayers and support coming from their supporters at home.

“Night after night, sometimes through to the early hours, even when training is only hours away, they have been tuning in to hear the prayers and greetings coming from halfway around the world,” Averis says.

Team member Sitiveni Mafi, who has played for Leicester and now plays for the Western Force says, “It’s just amazing the support we have from back in the islands.”

“Families and villages come together to pray … the boys can feel it so much here. It’s almost like we were there.”

After Tonga’s surprise defeat by Georgia on Saturday, it looks like sackcloth and ashes will have to donned to make the supporters prayer even more powerful than they have been to date.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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