Welsh to Kiwi: Protect us from the Tongans
The old canard about dangerous and illegal play by Polynesians is getting another airing in the British press ahead of Wales’s match against Tonga at the weekend. Assistant coach Shaun Edwards, who as a former league player has been involved in the odd bit of underhand biffo in his day, says it is vital his players are protected from the hard-hitting Tongans. The referee for the match is New Zealander, Mike Fraser.
“If I am honest, the South Seas Pacific Islands have a real reputation … of some little bit of unsavoury incidents [sic] at times,” Edwards told the Express and Star. “It is really vital that we keep our discipline but it is also vital the referee protects our players – that’s why I am so pleased that [Fraser] is coming over.”
It is disappointing to yet again read about “South Seas” players in the Anglo-Saxon press, when the same accusation could be levelled at the French, the South Africans, the English or, indeed, the All Blacks. But Edwards’ remarks also come after a dramatic weekend of rugby involving Tonga, Fiji and Samoa playing northern hemisphere teams.
Two Tongans were shown a red and yellow card, respectively, in the game against France. In the match against Italy, a world record five players were sin-binned, while Samoa centre George Pisi has been banned for six weeks, a penalty he is appealing, for an incident during the Ireland test.
“They are very vigorous, as you would expect,” Edwards says of the Tongans. “They are proud people but as long as it’s within the laws of the game.
“I think Saturday was a little bit of a reminder, both the Fiji game and the Tonga game, that it can boil over at times and it is vital that we, in particular, keep our discipline. I’m sure [Fraser] won’t put up with any nonsense, because it is something that has occurred more than once.”