Tonga look for divine intervention
Vungakoto Lilo of Tonga MONTPELLIER, 5 September - Tonga players are getting some Heavenly help as they prepare for their Pool A opener against the USA on Wednesday at the IRB Rugby World Cup.
Each morning and evening, on the training field and before games, the squad and team officials pray, read the bible and sing together.
Watching a group of huge, chiseled athletes form a huddle to peacefully sing a hymn isn’t what you might expect for a team famous for their physical approach to the game.
slogan that reads 'God and Tonga are my inheritance' and a prayer-turned-national anthem called 'O mighty God', it's no surprise that religion plays a big role in the team's life.
"Faith means a lot to the players" says Tonga team manager Angus Naupoto. "Every day, we read three Bible passages, sing hymns and pray. It bonds them together and reminds them of where they have come from."
"It's somethingwe grew up with and have always done," adds flanker Hale T Pole. "We find an inner strength from our Christian faith."
Not only victory
The players do not pray for victory however.
"We ask God for protection from injuries and help to do the best that we can," says Soane Havea, himself a former altar boy back home in Tonga.
The team's commitment is testament to the nation of Tonga, according to assistant coach Ellis Meachen (NZL), who has lived in the country for 18 months. "It shows the importance the Tongan people put on family and religion. It's uplifting to see."
It's not just the players who are asking for divine intervention. Churches in Tonga have distributed the list of all 45 people in the Tongan world cup camp to churches worldwide asking them to pray during RWC 2007.
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