Scottish Rugby donates kit to Tonga
Scottish Rugby has donated old rugby kit to help the recovery in devastated communities in the Kingdom of Tonga.
A volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami in January left thousands of people displaced and hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged.
Scottish Rugby has supported the Six Nations Championship in its #TogetherforTonga campaign. Six Nations made a £100,000 donation to support the immediate relief effort which was co-ordinated by the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Today 20 boxes of old kit left BT Murrayfield in transport provided by Scottish Rugby’s van supplier Ogilvie bound for the South Pacific.
Teacher Paul Koloi – a former rugby union player who went on to represent Tonga at rugby league – has been based in the UK for the past 22 years.
He has been volunteering to co-ordinate relief activity in both the rugby union and rugby league communities and from Edinburgh he will drive to St Helen’s who will use their Super League match against Warrington tomorrow to further assist the support. Then the kit will be on its way to Tonga.
“I just cannot believe the generosity of Scottish Rugby to donate this kit,” he said. “It will go mainly to children to encourage them to come to training and help with their mental wellbeing as their communities come out of the tsunami,” Paul said.
“For me it was very important to come to BT Murrayfield and collect the kit in person and say a heartfelt thank you.”
Paul, who teaches in London, added: “The rugby communities have been wonderful in their support, and I hope very much to forge stronger links.
“There’s already a great relationship between Tonga and Scotland and I’d love to see if we could set up a gap year exchange programme in the future, to enable young people from our countries to visit each other and perhaps help with rugby coaching.”
Our pictures show Paul with Scottish Rugby’s assistant kit manager John Spencer.
In the past week Scottish Rugby employees have also donated more than £2,000 as proceeds from a raffle towards the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal for Ukraine.