CABRAMATTA Rugby League Club has formed a new international alliance with Tonga with a junior team tour organised for the Pacific Island nation later this year.
Cabramatta football club general manager Craig Macleod recently visited the country to finalise arrangements and met with Tongan Rugby League general manager Lopeti Uhatafe.
Macleod said the Two Blues’ under-15s team will fly to Nuku’lofa in October or November this year and play a Tongan team of the same age.
More than 1500 players are registered in senior, school and junior competitions in Tonga. Tonga first played international rugby league in 1986.
‘‘It’s true over the years teams from England, Fiji , New Zealand and Australia, have gone to the friendly island of Tonga to play rugby league,’’ Macleod said.
‘‘But it is the first time a junior league of the under-15s age is visiting and playing a game in Tonga.
‘‘The trip is much more than about the young men from Cabramatta getting the opportunity to play at the famous Teufaiva [Sport] Stadium in the nation’s capital.
‘‘It is also for them to visit primary schools and conduct coaching clinics to help promote the great game of rugby league in Tonga.’’
Macleod said reaction from his visit in the Tongan community was positive.
‘‘The kids love their footy in Tonga, the game is growing,’’ Macleod said. ‘‘The plan in future is for a Tongan junior team to visit Australia and play Cabramatta here.’’
Cabramatta starts the Ron Massey Cup competition on Saturday, April 6, against Guildford Owls, at New Era Stadium.
Macleod said Chris Yates is the Ron Massey Cup (a level below the NSW Cup) first grade team coach coach.
Pat Weisner is in charge of the Sydney Shield team, in the reserve grade competition.
The NSW Rugby League run both competitions.