Tonga have long-suffered from a talent drain to bigger rugby nations - especially New Zealand and Australia - but their World Cup record is respectable.
They qualified for the inaugural World Cup in 1987, starting slowly in a heavy defeat by Canada, before raising their game, which tends to be based around brutally physical defence, in more respectable losses to Wales and Ireland.
The Tongans didn’t qualify for the 1991 World Cup, but returned in 1995 when they recorded their first ever win in the tournament, against Ivory Coast in a dead rubber.
In 1999, thrashings by England and New Zealand sandwiched one of their greatest ever World Cup results, a 28-25 win against Italy. A poor campaign followed, with no wins in their pool in 2003, but they bounced back in 2007, with solid wins against USA and Samoa. They also ran eventual winners South Africa very close, going down 30-25 in Lens.
Tonga won’t win the 2011 tournament, but they will compete with great pride, as usual, and inflict their fair share of bruises.
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