Say what you want about skill. Some nations have it in spades. But when it comes down to riding the wave of passion all the way to the quarter finals, Tonga are kings among men.
Small in Size Big in Heart
Tonga sits amongst a group of Polynesian islands in the vicinity of Fiji and Samoa stretching approximately 800km. The tiny island has a population of only 110 000. That’s about the same amount of people that they fit into the MCG on AFL Grand Final day.
Tonga’s Monumental Upset
It wasn’t enough that Tonga beat New Zealand at the weekend to record their most famous win. The men from the tiny pacific island did it in a come from behind effort. Down 16 to 2 at half time Tonga scored 4 tries in the second half.
They came home with a wet sail recording their first win against New Zealand causing one of (if not the) biggest upsets in world cup history.
The Defectors Lead the Way
The two main defectors that started the movement, Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita copped plenty of heat pre-tournament. They were maligned not only for their defection from their 1 nations to Tonga, but also vilified for how they did it.
The only way the pair could vindicate and justify the switch would have been to have a massive impact on the tournament. Not only have they done that but the pair are now carrying the hopes and dreams all the way to quarter finals.
Major Tournament Ramifications
It wasn’t only the boil over that had fans enraptured. It’s what the win has done for the nation and the effect on the rest of the tournament.
The ‘W’ means Tonga have finished on top of their pool. They now go in as favourites against Lebanon and will likely set up a semi-final against England. Many had a N.Z. Australia final that should now be the second semi-final. So it plays out as probably Australia vs Tonga/England.
With Tonga’s massive go forward and all that passion and heart behind them, there is no reason that they can’t be lining up against Australia at Suncorp stadium in a couple of weeks. Then all you have to do is play the thought experiment that any team (including Australia) can have an off night and if Taumalolo gets a roll on… Well… You do the maths for yourselves.
I’ll do the day dreaming and thank Tonga for turning a foregone conclusion on its head.
To find out what Tongan Australians think of the recent success of their home nation on the world stage, watch the latest episode of our Vlog.