Posted By Staff Reporter
A delegation from World Rugby is visiting Tonga this week and will assess the state of Teufaiva National Stadium.
Work has finally begun on renovations to the ground, which is being refurbished for the 2019 Pacific Games.
The Papua New Guinea government has committed over US$15 million in support of the project.
The 'Ikale Tahi rugby team have not played on home soil since 2009 and a scheduled home test against Wales in June has been moved to New Zealand, with the field deemed unfit for play.
Local church using the Teufaiva Stadium which is in need of renovations to host rugby test and Pac Games. Jan 2017Photo: Breakthrough Church Tonga
Head coach Toutai Kefu said the playing surface needs to be re-turfed which could take three to four months.
"They have started some work there at Teufaiva in the last week," he said.
"Myself along with some World Rugby executives will view the field [this week] so they're going to make a decision I think...whether it will be ready or not.
"Honestly, my own opinion, I don't think it will be but fingers crossed, you never know but it doesn't look good."
The Tongan team training at Nuku'alofa's Teufaiva stadiumThe Tongan team training at Teufaiva Stadium in 2015. Photo: Tonga Rugby Union
Toutai Kefu said he now expected Tonga's home Rugby World Cup qualifying matches against Samoa and Fiji in July will also have to be played offshore.
"They need to re-turf the whole thing and from my understanding that takes three to four months," he said.
"But the stands are in pretty ordinary shape - I don't think there's any plumbing or electricity - so there's a fair bit of work to do there as well."
"The reaction from the Welsh game not being held in Tonga has been quite brutal so there's a lot of pressure no on the government, from the union, to make sure that that doesn't happen again," Kefu said.
"The ground now has to be at least ready for the Pacific Games and if there's an opportunity for another team to come down in the near future we hope that we don't miss that opportunity again." RNZI