The International Rugby League Board has recommended a package of reforms for Tongan rugby league following the conclusion of a two-month investigation into the operation and governance of Tonga National Rugby League. The investigation, which included a mission to Tonga by independent investigator Gareth Holmes, who met with multiple stakeholders, was initiated after concerns were raised from the Office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tongan Sports Council, the Rugby Football League, the Australian Rugby League Commission and the Rugby League Players Association, which led to the suspension of TNRL’s membership of International Rugby League in late September.
The report concluded that changes to the governance structure of TNRL will support a more effective, unified organisation that better reflects the complexion of the Tongan rugby league movement. The key recommendations are:
- The formation of an independent implementation committee to liaise with stakeholders throughout the reform process
- A board whose positions are balanced between multiple electorates, including players, clubs, the diaspora and independents
- New rules to regulate clubs’ status as voting members of the general assembly
Tongan stakeholders have been informed of these finding and there will now be a 30-day period of consultation before a final plan is presented for adoption and implementation by Tongan rugby league.
IRL’s Global Operations Manager Danny Kazandjian said: “I would like to thank the multiple stakeholder groups that contributed to this investigation. Everyone involved in international rugby league wants to see Tonga prosper on both the international and the domestic stage.
“Following the schism in Tongan rugby league and investigation into the reasons for that, it was evident that the current governance model was capable of improvement to reflect the current circumstances of Tonga. The recommendations are a direct response to the issues unearthed by the investigation, are based on fundamental good governance principles, and are intended to introduce measures that will modernise Tongan rugby league’s governance and, therefore, its stability and capacity to grow the game at all levels. We recognise that there are deeply held views but we sincerely hope that all parties can come together and collaborate behind these positive recommendations and participate constructively in this reform process, for the betterment of rugby league in Tonga.”