Three Tonga backs suspended for foul play

 Tonga backs David Halaifonua and Siale Piutau and prop Edmund ‘Aholelei will miss the rest of the Pacific Nations Cup after being suspended for foul play in the loss to Canada last weekend.

All three will miss the test against the United States in Carson on Friday, and against Fiji in Tokyo on June 23.

They were suspended by an International Rugby Board judiciary after the 36-27 loss to Canada on Saturday in Kingston, Ontario.

Halaifonua, who contested his charge, was banned for six weeks until July 21 for a high shoulder charge on winger Matt Evans that caused Evans to be taken off on a stretcher. Halaifonua will also be unavailable for the Sevens World Cup in Moscow this month.

‘Aholelei pleaded guilty to punching flanker Jebb Sinclair, for which he was sent off in the first half. ‘Aholelei was suspended to July 12, including a Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby game that day.

Piutau was banned for three weeks to June 30 after pleading guilty to punching hooker Ray Barkwill.

After the match, Tonga coach Mana Otai claimed Pacific Island teams were being unfairly penalized for their physical play.

“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.”

Days after, Canada coach Kieran Crowley was still dismayed at the comments, and said the IRB penalties were justified.

“I don’t know how you could say they were legal tackles,” Crowley said.

“I thought the definition of a tackle was you had to use your arms for a start. It’s pretty clear when you have a look at those incidents that they deserved (the sanctions) what they got.

“This is about the third or fourth time I’ve heard it, the racist sort of things. You’ve got to play within the laws of the game. And if you don’t play within the laws of the game, you get dealt with.”

Crowley said Evans, who was concussed, was a doubt for the match against Ireland on Saturday in Toronto.

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