Ruskin Air Management is sponsoring Tonga in this year’s Rugby World Cup, which will be held in England and Wales during September and October.
The Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles) are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Samoa. Tonga’s greatest-ever win came in the last World Cup in New Zealand four years ago when they defeated France 19-14, but having lost to New Zealand and Canada they just missed out on making it to the quarter-finals for the first time.
This time Tonga are in another tough RWC group, again up against New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks as well as Argentina, Georgia and Namibia. They will play their matches in Gloucester, Leicester, Exeter, and will face the All Blacks at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park stadium on 9 October.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for us to get really involved in this year’s Rugby World Cup,” said Ruskin sales director David Fitzpatrick. “We are already enjoying our relationship with Tonga. The players are wonderful ambassadors for their country and the great rugby heritage of all the Pacific nations.”
The company, which has been manufacturing ventilation equipment in the UK for over 50 years through its Actionair, Air Diffusion and Naco brands, will be entertaining guests at Tonga’s matches and its logo will feature prominently on the team’s training kit. Ruskin will also be providing progress reports and insights on the team throughout the competition.
“While we obviously want the home nations to do well, the whole of the company is also getting right behind the Ikale Tahi,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Like their Polynesian neighbours, Tongan players perform a pre-match ritual dance – the Sipi Tau – to lay down a challenge to their opponents.