Tonga coach says refs are racist towards them

Tonga Rugby coach Mana Otai says that Pacific Island teams are being unfairly penalized for their physical play after his team lost 36-27 to Canada over the weekend.

Canada were on a high as four days after a first-ever win over Fiji, a Canada team with 10 changes was helped when Tonga prop Eddie Aholelei was sent off for fighting in the 34th minute.

Two more Tongans were sin-binned for shoulder charges.

“I couldn’t really see why (the yellow cards were issued),” Otai said after reviewing tape of the incidents.

“It’s almost like, these days you know, when a black man is tackling harder than the other, it seems to be the way.”

Asked if Pacific Island teams were being singled out, he said: “Absolutely. It’s a perception a lot of times.

“And I think some of the foreigners that are involved in our team now are starting to see that. “

“It’s just hard to battle or fight that stereotype, I guess. “

“But I’m not taking away the fact that at times we do, I guess, make mistakes in terms of tackling – if I’m talking in general.”

“But in today’s game, I couldn’t justify the two yellow cards.”

Canada coach Kieran Crowley declined to debate the merits of the Tongan incidents.

“It was a physical game,” the former All Black said.

“We’ve got a few boys walking around pretty wounded in there and we’ve got to keep an eye on a couple of them, I think.”


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