LONDON (AP) — Members of a Pacific Island players' support group in Europe are considering boycotting the Rugby World Cup in response to plans for a new world league that excludes Fiji, Samoa, and...
Operator of Tonga’s internet cable can’t rule out sabotage
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A director at the operator of Tonga's undersea internet cable said Monday he can't rule out sabotage as the reason the cable broke and plunged the Pacific nation into virtual darkness for almost two weeks.
Reboot: Tonga hopes to restore internet access by weekend
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Authorities in Tonga said Thursday they're hoping people will be able to visit Facebook and YouTube again by the weekend as experts repair the vital undersea cable that connects the Pacific nation to the rest of the world.
Tonga was plunged into virtual darkness 11 days ago when the fiber-optic cable was severed. Initially people lost access to the internet almost entirely and couldn't even make international phone calls.
No screen time: Tonga faces weeks of internet disruption
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — People in Tonga could face several weeks without Facebook, YouTube and even some basic services like credit card transactions due to a fault in the undersea cable that connects the Pacific nation to the rest of the world.
Something went wrong with the fiber-optic cable on Sunday night. Initially it wiped out access to the internet almost entirely, and meant people couldn't even make international phone calls.
New Zealand to play Tonga in Rugby World Cup warm-up
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Defending champion New Zealand will conclude its preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a one-off test against Tonga in Hamilton on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Tonga will leave for the World Cup in Japan the following day and New Zealand a day later as it attempts to win its third consecutive World Cup.
Wales’ Halfpenny out of Springboks test from concussion
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Leigh Halfpenny has been ruled out of Wales' test against South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday because of concussion.
The fullback hasn't recovered from his head slamming the field 10 days ago after a late, shoulder-led hit by center Samu Kerevi when Wales beat Australia.
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said on Tuesday they called up Hallam Amos, who was the fullback when Wales beat South Africa in June in Washington.
Wales grabs 10 tries, beats Tonga 74-24 for 8th straight win
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales scored three tries in the first 11 minutes before adding seven more in a rampant second-half display to thrash Tonga 74-24 in a rugby international in Cardiff and seal an eighth straight victory on Saturday.
It was Wales' highest points total since beating Namibia 81-7 at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Wales make 14 changes for Tonga, fullback Holmes to debut
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Jonah Holmes will debut at fullback in a Wales side with 14 changes playing Tonga on Saturday in Cardiff.
Prop Wyn Jones, who has made nine appearances as a replacement, and captain and flanker Ellis Jenkins earned their first starts on Thursday.
Only lock Adam Beard will repeat as a starter after the 9-6 home win over Australia last weekend.
British Lions wing Liam Williams will make his 50th appearance.
Tonga beats French Barbarians 49-38 in 13-try thriller
BORDEAUX, France (AP) — Tonga raced ahead and held on to beat the French Barbarians 49-38 in a thrilling contest featuring 13 tries on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua scored two tries and converted all seven for Tonga, which led 28-7 at the interval and 49-14 before the Barbarians — featuring five French players from the side which won the Under-20 World Cup in June — mounted a late surge.
AP PHOTOS: Royal couple dazzle fans on South Pacific tour
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Prince Harry and wife Meghan broke news they're expecting their first child during their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.
Japan’s oldest rugby venue ready to welcome the World Cup
HIGASHIOSAKA, Japan (AP) — A town on the outskirts of Osaka is putting the finishing touches on its preparations to host matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the first time the sport's showcase event will be staged in Asia.
With a population just under 500,000, Higashiosaka is Japan's rugby heartland. There is a temple devoted to the sport where players can go to pray for success. Rugby-themed manholes line the streets. Everywhere are reminders that this is a place that takes its rugby seriously.
Plane carrying Harry and Meghan aborts landing, flies around
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (AP) — A plane carrying the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had to abort its landing at Sydney airport on Friday evening and flew around because there was another aircraft on the runway.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan were returning from a visit to Tonga back to Australia, where they began their 16-day tour of four nations, when a message from the flight deck announced: "There was an aircraft on the runway a little slow to roll so the decision was taken to abort the landing."
Royals Harry and Meghan arrive in Tonga on Pacific tour
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (AP) — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived Thursday in the tiny Pacific kingdom of Tonga, where people gathered at the airport to welcome them wearing traditional outfits, playing guitars and singing.
Meghan’s schedule in Australia cut back after hectic start
SYDNEY (AP) — The pregnant Duchess of Sussex has had her schedule cut back during her first royal tour, after a hectic start to her visit to Australia and the South Pacific with husband Prince Harry.
The tour is an extremely busy one, with the royal couple scheduled to attend more than 70 engagements during a 16-day trip across four countries.
King joins Tongan fans in 34-16 defeat to Australia
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Australia crushed the hopes of a nation — and its watching king — when it beat Tonga 34-16 Saturday in their first rugby league test encounter.
More than 26,000 Tonga fans — expatriate representatives of a Pacific Island nation with a population of only 104,000 — watched the match at Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium. Tongan King George Tupou VI was among the supporters.
Wales pick 2 uncapped wingers for November rugby tests
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales picked two uncapped wingers for its November rugby tests on Tuesday despite a serious hit to its stock of back-rowers.
Jonah Holmes and Luke Morgan, who play for Leicester and Ospreys respectively, were the only newcomers in a squad of 37 chosen for games against Scotland, Australia, Tonga, and South Africa on successive Saturdays from Nov. 3.
England-born Holmes qualifies for Wales through a grandparent, and Morgan is Wales' all-time leading sevens point-scorer.
New captain Inglis suspended after DUI charge
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia's new rugby league captain Greg Inglis was suspended on Tuesday for this month's two-test tour of New Zealand after being charged with mid-range drink driving just hours after his appointment.
Inglis had said in a press conference he hoped to keep his place in the Kangaroos team to take on the Kiwis and Tonga, but soon afterward he was suspended by National Rugby League CEO Todd Greenberg and Australia coach Mal Meninga.
Tongan immigrant goes from NFL player to opera star
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former NFL player who migrated to Utah from Tonga as a child has found success as an opera singer, performing in productions around the world.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Ta'u Pupu'a played football and studied music at Weber State University, the Deseret News reported .
SYDNEY (AP) — Winger Junior Rau scored two tries to lead Papua New Guinea to a 26-14 upset win over Fiji in a rugby league international on Saturday.
In a later match of the Pacific International doubleheader at Campbelltown Stadium in western Sydney, Tonga kept up its strong recent form with a seven-try, 38-22 win over Samoa. Tonga led 30-6 at halftime.
Tonga beats Fiji 27-19 in rugby test
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Vereniki Goneva was both hero and villain as Pacific Nations Cup champion Fiji suffered a surprise 27-19 loss to Tonga in a one-off rugby test in Lautoka on Saturday.
Goneva touched down in the second half to equal Fiji's test try-scoring record of 20, set by the late Sainivalati Laulau during the 1980s, but was later sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
Fiji beats Georgia 37-15 to win Pacific Nations Cup
SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Scrumhalf Henry Seniloli scored two first-half tries and his replacement Frank Lomani added two in the second half as Fiji overwhelmed Georgia 37-15 on Saturday to win the Pacific Nations Cup for the fourth consecutive year.
Fiji beats Georgia 37-15 to win Pacific Nations Cup
SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Scrumhalf Henry Seniloli scored two first-half tries and his replacement Frank Lomani added two in the second half as Fiji overwhelmed George 37-15 on Saturday to win the Pacific Nations Cup for the fourth consecutive year.
Fiji, Georgia to fight out Pacific Nations Cup
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Fiji and Georgia will fight out the 2018 Pacific Nations Cup rugby title when they meet in the second round of the tournament at Suva on Saturday.
Both teams were narrow first-round winners last weekend and the outcome of Saturday's match at the National Stadium will determine whether Fiji claims the Pacific crown for the fourth consecutive year.
LONDON (AP) — Kensington Palace says Prince Harry, and his wife, the former actress Meghan Markle, will be touring Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand this fall.
The royal couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will be making the tour around the time of the Invictus Games in Sydney, which is set for Oct. 20-27.
SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Europe-based stars Vereniki Goneva and Kini Murimurivalu scored tries, each created by the other, as Fiji opened defense of its Pacific Nations Cup rugby title Saturday with a tense 24-22 win over Samoa.
Fiji led 24-3 before Samoa scored three tries in a late rally which rocked the defending champions. Earlier at Suva, Georgia beat Tonga 16-15 in similar circumstances, holding on after leading 16-3.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Officials have confirmed that a Virginia calf has played host to a tick that was previously only found in east Asia, Tonga, Vanuatu and New Jersey.
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales will host Scotland, Australia, Tonga, and South Africa in November rugby tests at Principality Stadium.
Scotland will be the first tier one northern hemisphere side to visit Cardiff in an autumn fixture since 2001.
The Scots, who haven't won in Cardiff since 2002, visit on Nov. 3, with the rest following on successive Saturdays.
Tonga’s proposed ban on women’s rugby angers critics
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — An order from Tonga's education ministry banning girls from playing rugby at the Pacific nation's only public high school has been condemned by Tongan community leaders and a high-profile Olympic champion.
A letter signed by Education Minister Penisimani Fifita told staff at Tonga High School in the capital Nukualofa that girls should not play rugby or take part in boxing to "preserve the dignity of Tongan women and hold on to Tongan cultural values."
Mudslides block only road to New Zealand town after storm
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Mudslides blocked the only road to a small New Zealand town Wednesday after a powerful Pacific storm caused disruptions across parts of the country.
The 1,000 tourists and 5,000 locals in Takaka are not entirely trapped, but would have to use a boat, helicopter or small plane to leave town now or wait a week or more before the road is cleared and repaired.
‘Shirtless’ Tongan skier, others ‘live to fight another day’
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The "shirtless" Tongan, all covered up to keep warm this time, had only one thought as he maneuvered around the final downhill turn and headed toward the finish line.
"Please God," the Olympic cross-country skier said to himself, "not in front of everyone. Don't give me my first fall."
Pita Taufatofua made it to the finish line, all right, and he did it before they closed the course for the night — the other of his two fears heading into the event.
Topless Tongan set to ski but not dressed for success
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Tongan cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua joked that he has two immediate goals when he competes in his first Winter Olympic event on Friday: Don't hit a tree and finish before they turn off the lights.
The medal podium is far from the mind of the "shirtless" Tongan, who qualified for the cross-country event despite having taken up the sport less than a year ago and having spent less than 12 weeks of his life on snow.
Tongans face long wait for services to return after cyclone
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Thousands of Tonga residents face a long wait for power and other services to be restored after a cyclone tore through the Pacific nation this week.
More details emerged Wednesday about the damage caused by Cyclone Gita after it hit the main island Monday night just south of the capital, Nuku'alofa. The cyclone destroyed homes, churches and even the nation's historic Parliament House.
Tonga’s Olympic flag bearer thinking of cyclone-hit homeland
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua has more on his mind than just trying to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics this week.
The 34-year-old cross-country skier is concerned about his homeland after it was hit by a cyclone that destroyed Parliament House as well as churches and homes.
It's been two years since the world first took notice of Pita Taufatofua, the Olympic athlete from Tonga.
Cold medal: Shirtless Tongan grabs Olympic attention again
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Pita Taufatofua has shown once again he's willing to give the shirt off his back for Tonga in Olympic conditions, whether it be sun, snow or shine.
Less than two years after shooting to international fame when he walked shirtless and oiled-up into the opening ceremony of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Taufatofua was bare chested again when he carried the Tongan flag into the opener of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang on Friday.
Tonga fans sign petition to protest World Cup semi defeat
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — More than 35,000 fans have signed an online petition calling for an explanation of the no-try call Saturday that cost Tonga an historic victory over England in a semifinal of the Rugby League World Cup.
But World Cup referees boss Tony Archer stood by Australian referee Matt Ceccin, saying the last-minute call to disallow a Tonga try to Andrew Fifita was correct and defended the referee's decision not to call for a video replay.
England holds out Tonga 20-18 to reach World Cup final
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — England conceded three tries in the last eight minutes but held on to beat Tonga 20-18 in the second semifinal of the Rugby League World Cup Saturday to join defending champion Australia in a final match-up next weekend which is both expected and unexpected.
Japan sense chance of upsetting France in Paris
PARIS (AP) — Japan sense a chance of upsetting France in their rugby test on Saturday.
France's morale is low after six consecutive losses since June, one of them a non-test, all to either South Africa or New Zealand. Coach Guy Noves is feeling the heat from only three wins in 10 tests this year.
Japan has not beaten France in three previous tests, the last at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but France's problems haven't escaped them.
England, Australia, Tonga, Fiji in WCup semifinals
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — England has joined defending champion Australia, Tonga and Fiji in the semifinals of the Rugby League World Cup after weekend quarterfinals which showed the full flowering of Pacific Islands league on the world stage.
Australia continued its imperious progress to the final four with a 46-0 win over Samoa and England joined the co-host Sunday by beating Papua New Guinea 36-6.
Fiji shocks NZ, Tonga edges Lebanon to reach WCup semis
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Fiji pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Rugby League World Cup history Saturday when it beat tournament co-hosts New Zealand 4-2 in the quarterfinals.
In a rare tryless match in which all the points came from penalties, Fiji held out the highly favored Kiwis and will now face defending champion Australia in next weekend's semifinals. Australia thrashed Samoa 46-0 on Friday.
US, Niger teams visit site to learn about soldiers’ ambush
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The U.S. Africa Command says it has sent a joint team with the Niger military to the village of Tongo Tongo to investigate the Oct. 4 attack by extremists that left four American and four Nigerien soldiers dead.
AFRICOM said Sunday that the on-site investigation is part of a wider review across the U.S., Africa and Europe and by multiple agencies to determine how the attack took place.
Tonga upsets New Zealand at Rugby League World Cup
HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — David Fusitu'a scored a second-half hat trick as Tonga produced one of the biggest upsets in Rugby League World Cup history by rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit to beat New Zealand 28-22 on Saturday and secure top spot in Group B.
New Zealand led 16-2 at halftime but the Tongans replied with five tries after the break and then held off a late comeback by the Kiwis.
New Zealand, Tonga, England win at WCup
SYDNEY (AP) — New Zealand and Tonga joined Australia in qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday with one round to spare in the pool stage.
Co-hosts New Zealand thrashed Scotland 74-6 win in Christchurch and Tonga beat Pacific Island rivals Samoa 32-18 in Hamilton in a match that passed peacefully after the build-up was marred by violence.
US won’t extradite American charged with murder to Tonga
HONOLULU (AP) — An American charged with murder in Tonga in connection with his wife's death has been released from prison in Hawaii after the U.S. State Department refused to extradite him because of concerns he would not have received a fair trial.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exercised his discretion in denying the Kingdom of Tonga's request to extradite Dean Jay Fletcher for trial in the South Pacific archipelago nation, according to a letter to U.S. prosecutors from the State Department.
Samoa, Tonga fans brawl ahead of Rugby League WCup match
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Police and community leaders have appealed for calm after violence flared between Samoan and Tongan fans ahead of their teams' match in the Rugby League World Cup this weekend.
Leading players quit NZ, Australia to play for Tonga at WCup
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Australia and New Zealand have been hit by team defections ahead of the Rugby League World Cup as leading players quit the Kangaroos and Kiwis to play for Tonga.
North Queensland star Jason Taumalolo headlines a group of four former Kiwis who have turned their backs on New Zealand while Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita has defected from Australia to Tonga after being named in the Kangaroos World Cup squad earlier this week.