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Too busy to answer subpoena

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 27, 2011) – The Tonga rugby union authority has refused to appear before a parliamentary sub-committee charged with sorting out issues ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

The sub-committee was set up in response to MP Sangster Saulala calling for the current members to be replaced.

Mr Saulala, who’d been a controversial chair of the board, was himself dumped two years ago amid concerns about financial mismanagement.

He had initiated a petition which went to Cabinet, calling for the people to re-assume control of the game in Tonga.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the rugby union says it’s too busy preparing for the World Cup to attend.

But he says the sub-committee is not looking favourably on this stance.

"If the board doesn’t dialogue with this sub-committee, a decision will have to be made very soon. A decision to replace the board or something to that effect, so that a collective effort is achieved to move forward with the Tonga Ikale Tahi."

The rugby union authority was set up last year by the government to address the International Rugby Board’s concerns over the application of the union’s constitution.

The IRB has said any unapproved changes to the Tongan Rugby Union Authority could jeopardise the country’s participation at this year’s World Cup.

Tonga is in the opening match of the rugby world cup.

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