A new era for rugby in the Kingdom of Tonga is unfolding with Tonga Rugby Union (TRU) signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pacific Rugby Players (PRP).
The MoU outlines how the players’ association can assist TRU and its players based offshore, with all sorts of concerns that may arise including welfare, legal or wellbeing issues; and, how TRU can assist PRP to achieve its aims as the collective voice of rugby players in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
This agreement comes on the back of agreeing to a new governing arrangement in late 2020 which ensures TRU will continue to receive critical funding from World Rugby, as well as Peter Harding’s appointment as the Union’s new chief executive officer (CEO) in January.
The MoU with PRP, whose chairman Hale T Pole is part of the Joint Management Committee assisting the governance of Tongan rugby, is yet another catalyst for positive change in the organisation which has faced its fair share of challenges in the past, and the new CEO has welcomed the move.
“Tonga Rugby Union is really delighted to sign the MoU with PRP, it is a logical step,” Peter says.
“We are very aware of the issues and challenges our many players face when they are based overseas and it is great to be able to have the PRP beside us, offering advice and different support systems.”
Peter adds the MoU was signed in a spirit of cooperation, and it formalises the work and services PRP has been providing TRU over the years.
While PRP has had an MoU in place with Samoa and Fiji Rugby Unions for several years, the association had not quite convinced Tonga to sign a formal agreement, PRP chief executive Aayden Clarke says.
“So, the signing of the MoU is significant because it allows us as a players’ association to support the rugby activity of TRU in a more meaningful way and have a more official involvement with player welfare and support.
“We have been providing support for Ikale Tahi unofficially for a number of years, but now to be at the table with TRU and to work in partnership in a positive way which assists the development of the rugby calendar and personal development for not only Ikale Tahi players but the under-20s, Tonga Rugby Academy and all the players in Tonga,” Aayden says.
Both parties are looking forward to working together and see the MoU as an opportunity to strengthen rugby, in what is a new era of reform for the game in Tonga.
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