Court of Arbitration for Sport rejects Tonga NRL appeal against international expulsion

James Gordon

Tonga beat Australia and Great Britain in 2019

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed the Tonga National Rugby League appeal against the International Rugby League decision to expel them from membership of the international federation.

Tonga’s former governing body were suspended by the IRL in 2019, which resulted in their internationals including one against Great Britain and a famous win over Australia, being played by a so-called “Tonga Invitational XIII”.

It came following a fall out between officials and players, that eventually led to Tonga being expelled in March 2020 “based upon several factors which were having a negative impact on rugby league in Tonga and on the wider international game.”

CAS dismissed the TNRL appeal, upholding the decision by IRL to expel the TNRL.

A new governing body is now expected to come forward and present itself for membership of the IRL in the near future.

An IRL statement said: “The CAS judgement recognised that IRL officials have consistently reached out to TNRL, which continually refused to cooperate, and to the wider rugby league community of the Kingdom of Tonga to try to ensure that the sport has the very best opportunity to grow, develop, build upon the success enjoyed by the Tonga national team and look forward to a very successful Rugby League World Cup at the end of this year.

“Following today’s judgement, IRL will maintain that stance and looks forward to working earnestly with all stakeholders to ensure that the Tongan rugby league community can rebuild on firm foundations that are rooted in good governance and is able to fulfil the high expectations of the Tongan people.”