Australian Defence Force strengthens sporting ties in Tonga
17 May 2019
The Australian Defence Force Rugby League (ADF RL) has completed a successful tour in Tonga, where ADF personnel conducted training and coaching clinics with junior players and His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) players, from 15 to 17 May 2019.
Building on the Australian National Rugby League’s clinics, the program brought together the defence forces of Australia and Tonga to share coaching skills and deliver training to local schools.
ADF RL Program Manager Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Drew said the opportunity to engage with the Tongan community and share skills was valuable for the coaching group.
“The joint training and delivery of programs with a highly regarded group of rugby league players provided meaningful insights for our team,” Lieutenant Colonel Drew said.
“This is particularly true in Tonga, where rugby league is part of the national identity, and we speak a common language through sport.
“We have an enduring relationship with our friends from the HMAF rugby league team, which will only be further enhanced through additional sports activities in the near future.”
The program provided practical and theoretical aspects of rugby league skills development, game strategies, nutrition, lifestyle advice and game day preparation.
Royal Australian Navy sailor and elite rugby league player Shannon Evans said the school programs were the highlight of the tour.
“I was honoured to be part of a group building the capacity and driving the development of local rugby league teams in Tonga,” Leading Seaman Evans said.
“Working with the schoolboys’ and schoolgirls’ teams was a really rewarding experience knowing that it might help to nurture talented players for the national teams in the coming years.”
The programs were delivered by ADF RL members and senior representatives from the Australian National Rugby League.
The training and coaching clinics follow an Australian Army Rugby Union tour in Tonga last week that delivered games between the men’s and women’s sides, as well as training, coaching and community engagement activities. ADF RL will return to the Pacific region commencing in Fiji for a tour in October 2019.