Toa Saracens RFC, one of the leading rugby clubs in Tonga, has formally joined the global network of Saracens clubs, sharing playing, coaching and community resources with the innovative north London club.
As part of the agreement, the two clubs have established the Toa Saracens Academy, where young Tongans from the age of 14 will be granted educational bursaries and benefit from expert rugby, dietary and conditioning advice.
Nigel Wray, Saracens chairman, said: “Tonga is a very special place. This group of Pacific islands is passionate about rugby, and a population of only 104,000 has produced more than 140 people playing some form of professional rugby around the world, notably Mako and Billy Vunipola. The idea of this equal partnership, and of the Toa Saracens Academy, is to create genuine opportunities for young people in Tonga, in life as well as in rugby.”
Toa Saracens will wear the same playing strip as the Premiership club, and Saracens coaches and community staff will visit Tonga on a regular basis.
Viliami Maake, CEO of Toa Saracens, said: “I see the partnership between Saracens and Toa as a huge incentive particularly for young and talented rugby players in Tonga, who through the cooperative arrangements between Saracens, Toa Saracens and the Toa Saracens Academy will have access to professional coaching and proven development programmes provided under the Saracens brand. We at Toa Saracens are thrilled by the prospects that will be created as a result of the partnership, which will definitely benefit both parties and related stakeholders.”