Tonga plans to go ahead with its scheduled Northern Hemisphere rugby tour this month despite Samoa’s recent decision to cancel its tour over COVID-19 concerns.
Samoa announced on Wednesday it would not tour because strict domestic border policies would not allow Samoa-based players to return home if they have been to countries with the COVID-19 outbreak. The Samoa team was to play Spain, Uruguay and Romania before the British Barbarian selection at Twickenham.
The Samoa Union said in a statement that it was “not able to guarantee the safety of any of our players and management during the campaign and the current state of emergency measures by the government restrict the return of anyone within six months of exposure to the virus.” does.
Chief executive Falomawega Vincent Fapulei said, “This was a major obstacle to keep our borders safe. We acknowledge the scale of the pandemic’s impact and consequences in our small country with limited resources.”
Samoa head coach Silala Mapusua said the decision to cancel was the right one, although it was difficult for players, fans and the hosts.
“As head coaches, if we can’t bring our team together, our performance and the reputation of our brand are badly affected,” Mapusua said. “However, the safety and well-being of protecting Samoa from the current COVID-19 type of pandemic was ultimately the right call.”
Tonga said on Thursday it believed its tour could go ahead despite travel problems during the pandemic. Ekale Tahi will play Scotland in the last week of October and England, the French Barbarians and Romania in November.
Peter Hardinge, chief executive of the Tonga Rugby Union, said that most Tonga players are already based in the Northern Hemisphere. Players from Australia and New Zealand will be more difficult to select due to the border restrictions of those countries. A team name is expected later this week.
“Samoa has made a very difficult decision,” Harding told Radio New Zealand. “We’re not in their building so we can’t really comment on why they made the decision but we understand all too well the difficulties of putting this tour together.
“Honestly it’s such an energy-sapper but we’re going to move on with ourselves and that’s the decision we made.”
Harding said head coach Toutai Kefu would not tour because he and his family were still recovering from a violent home invasion in August.
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