A Tonga Rugby Union Board member says elected representatives from some local rugby clubs will seek legal action after claims they were locked out of last month’s annual general meeting (AGM) – restricting them from participating in the vote for president.

Aisea Aholelei, a representative of the Kolomotu’a rugby club and current member of the TRU Board, said he was one of a group which was kept out of the AGM.

Aholelei said he was convinced security was put on the door to ensure candidate voting favoured chief executive Fe’ao Vunipola’s preferred candidate for president.

“The AGM on the Friday was to elect a new president of the Tonga Rugby Union but the interim CEO, who is also the vice president [Fe’ao Vunipola], wanted his own candidate to be voted in. So when he knew that he didn’t have the numbers, he didn’t allow us into the AGM,” he said.

Siaosi Pohiva was named to succeed his father and former prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, who died last August, as the newly elected TRU president.

Aholelei said he believed denying entry and participation for board members and representatives of the TRU was unconstitutional.

“We were surprised, very very surprised that we weren’t allowed in. It was just so clear that he was doing things unconstitutionally and in front of everybody by not allowing us in.”

Aholelei claimed Vunipola ran the TRU by himself and with no regard for the constitution.

“It’s surprising because come the day of the AGM, he started mentioning that we were unconstitutional and we were going to start running things to the Tonga Rugby constitution.

“He said the Tongatapu Rugby Union was running unconstitutionally since 2017. He’s just been saying that but he hasn’t brought in any proof of that.”

In Aholelei’s opinion, legal action was now required to ensure the operation and governance of the Tonga Rugby Union was legitimate.

“It’s all been halted because of influences by the interim CEO Mr Vunipola and by the previous government who are his friends. The only option for us now is to go through the legal processes at the moment.”

He said he believed the legal avenue was a last resort.


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