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Tonga's 2007 performance against England inspiring modern-day 'Ikale Tahi players

The Tongan 'Ikale Tahi endured a day of mixed emotions during their official welcome to the Rugby World Cup following the death of prime minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva.

There will be a moment's silence before Sunday's game against England to honour the late former prime minister.

“Obviously it has been mentioned, he was the President of the Tongan Rugby Union and prime minister, our deepest condolences to the family," captain Siale Piutau said.

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1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver has this report. Source: 1 NEWS

In Sapporo, locals did all they can to keep the team's spirits up before the players attempt to pull one of the biggest upsets in history

It‘ll be just the third time in history that 'Ikale Tahi  has ever played England with the teams meeting only at World Cups.

The last meeting in 2007 was close for large periods, that year Tonga also came within six points of tipping over South Africa who went on to win the final.

"It's a group (the 2007 team) that I looked up to, a group that inspired me to one day want to put on that red jersey and that's something we want to create with this group," Piutau said.