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The Tonga national rugby union team is nicknamed ʻIkale Tahi (Sea Eagles). Like their Polynesian neighbours, the Tongans start their matches with a war dance – the Sipi Tau. They are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Samoa. The Ikale Tahi achieved a historic 19–14 victory over France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but having lost to New Zealand and Canada, were unable to achieve what would have been their first ever presence at the quarter-finals.

Tonga
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)ʻIkale Tahi
EmblemWhite dove
UnionTonga Rugby Football Union
Head coachToutai Kefu
CaptainSiale Piutau
Most capsNili Latu (54)
Top scorerKurt Morath (338)
Top try scorerFetu'u Vainikolo (15)
Home stadiumTeufaiva Sport Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current13 (as of 21 May 2018)
Highest9 (2011)
Lowest20 (2006)
First international
Tonga 9–6 Fiji
(Nuku'alofa, Tonga; 25 August 1924)
Biggest win
Tonga 119–0 South Korea
(Nuku'alofa, Tonga; 22 March 2003)
Biggest defeat
New Zealand 102–0 Tonga
(Albany, New Zealand; 16 June 2000)
World Cup
Appearances7 (First in 1987)
Best resultPool stage, 1987, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015
Websitewww.tongarugbyunion.net

Contents

HistoryEdit

Rugby was brought to the region in the early 20th Century by sailors and missionaries and the Tonga Rugby Football Union was formed in late 1923. Tonga beat Fiji 9–6 in their first test in 1924 played in the capital Nukuʻalofa. However, Tonga lost the second test 14–3 and drew the decider 0–0.

Between 1924 and 1938 Tonga and Fiji played three test series every alternate year. Matches between the two Pacific nations were hard fought; many have claimed that the ancient feuding wars between the Islanders were transplanted onto the rugby field. Troubles during the third Test of Fiji's 1928 tour to Tonga forced the game to be abandoned with Tonga leading 11–8. In 1954 Tonga played host to a touring Western Samoa.

Tonga beat New Zealand Māori in 1969, but had to wait until 1973 before they played their second test match a 30–12 defeat against Australia in Sydney. They got their revenge when they beat Australia in Ballymore, Brisbane 16–11, scoring four tries to two in June 1973. The following year they traveled to the Arms Park for a non-cap international against Wales, a game that ended in a 26–7 defeat.

The first Tongan tour to Great Britain was in 1974 when they played 10 games, including those in Wales against East Wales, Llanelli, North Wales, Newport, West Wales and a Wales XV. The only tour victory was by 18–13 in the opener against East Wales. The 'tests' were lost by 44–8 to a Scotland XV and by 26–7 to the Wales XV.

They remained a little-known quantity in Europe until 1986 when Wales embarked on a tour of Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa. Early in the game against Tonga Welsh flanker Mark Brown was knocked over by three Tongan forwards, leading to a mass brawl involving the entire team except Malcolm Dacey and Mark Titley. Robert Jones describes the event in his book Raising The Dragon as "the worst brawl I have ever seen on a rugby field." At the post-match dinner Jonathan Davies was asked to give a few words in Welsh and as the hosts politely applauded he described them as "the dirtiest team I have ever played against"[citation needed]

Tonga were drawn to play Wales again in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The previous meeting, plus the decision to rest some of the leading players, led to a poor Welsh performance though they managed to win 29–16. Tonga lost its other two games to Ireland (32–9) and Canada (37–4).

They failed to qualify for the 1991 Rugby World Cup. In 1994 they won the South Pacific championship on try count and so qualified for the Super 10, in which they finished bottom of their pool with only one point.

They qualified for the 1995 World Cup ahead of Fiji on points difference. Tonga managed only two victories in the next two World Cups, against the 29–11 Côte d'Ivoire in 1995 and Italy in 1999. The win over the Côte d'Ivoire brought tragedy when Ivorian winger Max Brito was left paralyzed.

June 1999 brought a 20–16 defeat of France in Nukuʻalofa over a touring France but in 2000 they were defeated 102–0 (including 15 tries) by New Zealand.

After losing their first four matches to Fiji and Samoa, Tonga finished third in the Oceania qualifying group. As a result, they had to play home and away matches against Papua New Guinea, which they won 47–14 and 84–12, followed by a play-off against South Korea, who finished as runners-up in the Asian section. Tonga thrashed them 75–0 and 119–0.

At the 2003 Rugby World Cup Tonga lost all their games and finished bottom of their pool. Although they kept Wales to 20–27, they were again thrashed by New Zealand 91–7.

In 2007 Tonga participated in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, winning two of their pool matches and nearly defeating the eventual champions, South Africa, before losing 30–25.

Tonga achieved one of the most unexpected victories in Rugby World Cup history with their 19 – 14 win over France in the 2011 World Cup.[citation needed]

On 24 November 2012, Tonga beat Scotland, at Pittodrie Stadium, 21–15 for their first victory over a traditional rugby power on a European pitch.

Sipi TauEdit

Like several Pacific rugby nations, Tonga has a pre-game war dance, called the Sipi Tau. It is a form of the Kailao, which was originally a war dance that was imported to Tonga from Wallis Island. It is usually performed at both public and private ceremonies.

During the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, in Tonga's match against the All Blacks, the All Blacks began their traditional haka, and then Tonga answered to the haka through the sipi tau whilst the All Blacks were performing, bringing the teams within metres of one another just prior to kick-off.[1]

Wins against Tier 1 nationsEdit

Overall RecordEdit

Top 30 rankings as of 19 August 2019[2]
Rank Change* Team Points
1  1   Wales 089.43
2  1   New Zealand 089.40
3     Ireland 088.69
4  1   South Africa 086.83
5  1   England 086.79
6     Australia 084.05
7  1   France 080.58
8  1   Scotland 079.01
9     Japan 077.21
10     Fiji 076.98
11     Argentina 076.29
12     Georgia 074.42
13     Italy 072.04
14     United States 071.93
15     Tonga 071.49
16     Samoa 069.08
17     Spain 068.15
18     Romania 066.69
19     Uruguay 065.18
20     Russia 064.81
21     Canada 061.36
22     Portugal 061.33
23     Namibia 061.01
24     Hong Kong 059.64
25     Netherlands 058.46
26     Brazil 057.84
27     Belgium 057.35
28     Germany 054.96
29     Chile 054.56
30      Switzerland 053.19
*Change from the previous week
Tonga's historical rankings
 
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 7 January 2019[2]

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Tongan national XV at test level up until 16 June 2018.[3]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
  Argentina 1 0 1 0 0% 16 45 −29
  Australia 4 1 3 0 25% 42 167 −125
  Australia A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 15 60 −45
  Canada 8 3 5 0 37.50% 155 193 −38
  Chile 1 1 0 0 100.00% 32 30 +2
  Cook Islands 3 3 0 0 100.00% 235 22 +213
  England 2 0 2 0 0.00% 30 137 −107
  England XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 17 37 −20
  Fiji 91 27 61 3 29.67% 1218 1780 −562
  France 5 2 3 0 40.00% 75 149 −74
  Georgia 6 2 4 0 33.33% 132 99 +33
  Ireland 2 0 2 0 0.00% 28 72 −44
  Italy 5 2 3 0 40.00% 82 154 −72
  Ivory Coast 1 1 0 0 100.00% 29 11 +18
  Japan 17 9 8 0 52.94% 446 418 +28
  Junior All Blacks 2 0 2 0 0.00% 23 77 −54
  Namibia 2 2 0 0 100% 55 35 +20
  New Zealand 5 0 5 0 0.00% 35 326 −291
  Māori 12 4 8 0 33.33% 165 319 −154
  Papua New Guinea 2 2 0 0 100.00% 131 26 +105
  Portugal 1 1 0 0 100.00% 24 19 +5
  Romania 3 2 1 0 66.67% 64 55 +9
  Samoa 65 27 34 4 42.19% 973 1144 −171
  Scotland 4 1 3 0 25.00% 58 136 −78
  Scotland XV 2 0 2 0 0.00% 13 67 −55
  South Korea 6 6 0 0 100.00% 464 66 +398
  South Africa 2 0 2 0 0.00% 35 104 −69
  Spain 1 1 0 0 100.00% 28 13 +15
  United States 9 8 1 0 88.89% 241 134 +107
  Wales 8 0 8 0 0.00% 84 227 −143
  Wales XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 7 26 −19
  Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.00% 42 13 +29
Total 273 106 160 7 38.83% 4977 6136 -1159

World Cup RecordEdit

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
   1987 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 29 98 Automatically qualified
    1991 Did not qualify 3 1 0 2 64 62
  1995 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 44 90 2 1 0 1 34 26
  1999 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 47 171 7 2 0 5 317 241
  2003 Pool Stage 4 0 0 4 46 178 8 4 0 4 398 178
  2007 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 89 96 7 3 0 4 329 136
  2011 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 80 98 Automatically qualified
  2015 Pool Stage 4 1 0 3 70 130
  2019 Qualified 4 1 0 3 68 93
Total 7/8 25 7 0 18 405 861 31 12 0 19 1210 736

Current squadEdit

Tonga squad for the 2019 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup.

Note: Caps correct as of 26 July 2018

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

Player Position Date of birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Paul Ngauamo Hooker (1990-02-19) 19 February 1990 (age 29) 16   Agen
Sosefo Sakalia Hooker (1991-12-14) 14 December 1991 (age 27) 7   Asia Pacific Dragons
Elvis Taione Hooker (1983-05-25) 25 May 1983 (age 36) 27   Exeter Chiefs
Paea Faʻanunu Prop (1988-11-04) 4 November 1988 (age 30) 8   Castres
Maʻafu Fia Prop (1989-11-22) 22 November 1989 (age 29) 1   Ospreys
Siegfried Fisi'ihoi Prop (1987-06-08) 8 June 1987 (age 32) 7   Stade Français
Siua Halanukonuka Prop (1986-08-09) 9 August 1986 (age 33) 8   Glasgow Warriors
Ben Tameifuna Prop (1991-08-30) 30 August 1991 (age 27) 7   Racing 92
Toma Taufa Prop (1995-03-09) 9 March 1995 (age 24) 0   Aviron Bayonnais
Leva Fifita Lock (1989-07-29) 29 July 1989 (age 30) 10   Grenoble
Onehunga Havili Lock (1996-02-16) 16 February 1996 (age 23) 4   Exeter Chiefs
Sam Lousi Lock (1991-07-20) 20 July 1991 (age 28) 0   Hurricanes
Steve Mafi Lock (1989-12-09) 9 December 1989 (age 29) 29   Castres
Daniel Faleafa Flanker (1989-02-13) 13 February 1989 (age 30) 17   Coventry
Zane Kapeli Flanker (1992-09-28) 28 September 1992 (age 26) 1   Bay of Plenty
Fotu Lokotui Flanker (1992-03-19) 19 March 1992 (age 27) 7   Kagifa Samoa
Maama Vaipulu Flanker (1989-07-21) 21 July 1989 (age 30) 4   Castres
Nasi Manu Number 8 (1988-08-15) 15 August 1988 (age 31) 3   Benetton
Sione Vailanu Number 8 (1995-01-27) 27 January 1995 (age 24) 4   Saracens
Sami Fisilau Half-back (1987-11-29) 29 November 1987 (age 31) 18   Auckland Marist
Leon Fukofuka Half-back (1994-09-08) 8 September 1994 (age 24) 2   Kagifa Samoa
Sonatane Takulua Half-back (1991-01-11) 11 January 1991 (age 28) 30   Newcastle Falcons
James Faiva First five-eighth (1994-06-13) 13 June 1994 (age 25) 0   El Salvador
Latiume Fosita First five-eighth (1992-07-25) 25 July 1992 (age 27) 27   Kagifa Samoa
Mali Hingano Centre (1992-01-27) 27 January 1992 (age 27) 0   Stade Français
Otumaka Mausia Centre (1997-04-22) 22 April 1997 (age 22) 0   Auckland
Siale Piutau Centre (1985-10-13) 13 October 1985 (age 33) 35   Bristol Rugby
Nafi Tuitavake Centre (1989-01-21) 21 January 1989 (age 30) 11   Northampton Saints
Viliami Lolohea Wing (1993-07-04) 4 July 1993 (age 26) 5   Papatoetoe
Atieli Pakalani Wing (1989-08-02) 2 August 1989 (age 30) 6   Eastwood
Cooper Vuna Wing (1987-07-05) 5 July 1987 (age 32) 8   Bath
David Halaifonua Fullback (1987-07-05) 5 July 1987 (age 32) 28   Coventry

Individual all-time recordsEdit

Most capsEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Won Lost Draw %
1. Nili Latu Flanker 2006– 48 47 1 28 5 0 1 0 19 28 1 40.62
2. Vunga Lilo Fullback 2007– 44 41 3 87 12 3 7 0 19 25 0 43.18
3. Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1990–2005 41 40 1 50 8 2 2 0 15 26 0 36.58
4. Pierre Hola Fly-half 1998–2009 39 38 1 312 10 68 39 3 13 26 0 33.33
Benhur Kivalu Number 8 1998–2005 39 35 4 40 8 0 0 0 14 24 1 37.17
6. Aleki Lutui Hooker 1999–2015 38 30 8 25 5 0 0 0 12 25 1 32.89
7. Siale Piutau Wing 2011– 37 35 2 15 3 0 0 0 16 20 1 44.59
8. Manu Vunipola Scrum-half 1987–1999 36 31 5 9 2 0 0 0 12 23 1 34.72
9. Kurt Morath Fly-half 2009– 35 30 5 340 2 48 78 0 18 17 0 51.42
10. Fe'ao Vunipola Hooker 1988–2001 34 32 2 15 3 0 0 0 13 20 1 39.70

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most triesEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1. Fetu'u Vainikolo Wing 2011– 28 27 1 85 17 0 0 0
2. Josh Taumalolo Centre 1996–2007 26 23 3 118 14 6 12 0
3. Vunga Lilo Fullback 2007– 44 41 3 87 12 3 7 0
4. Pierre Hola Fly-half 1998–2009 39 38 1 312 10 68 39 3
Fepikou Tatafu Centre 1996–2002 23 21 2 50 10 0 0 0
6. Viliame Iongi Wing 2011– 21 15 6 45 9 0 0 0
Benhur Kivalu Number 8 1998–2005 39 35 4 45 9 0 0 0
8. Sonatane Takulua Scrum-half 2014– 32 30 2 189 8 28 31 0
Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1990–2005 41 40 1 50 8 2 2 0
10. 5 players on 7 tries

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Leading point scorersEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1. Kurt Morath Fly-half 2009– 35 30 5 340 2 48 78 0
2. Pierre Hola Fly-half 1998–2009 39 38 1 312 10 68 39 3
3. Sateki Tu'ipulotu Fullback 1993–2003 20 19 1 190 5 33 32 1
4. Sonatane Takulua Scrum-half 2014– 32 30 2 189 8 28 31 0
5. Fangatapu Apikotoa Fly-half 2004–2014 30 20 10 147 2 40 19 0
6. Josh Taumalolo Centre 1996–2007 26 23 3 118 14 6 12 0
7. Kusitafu Tonga Fullback 1996–2001 13 12 1 114 1 32 15 0
8. Vunga Lilo Fullback 2007– 44 41 3 87 12 3 7 0
9. Fetu'u Vainikolo Wing 2011– 28 27 1 85 17 0 0 0
10. Fepikou Tatafu Centre 1996–2002 23 21 2 50 10 0 0 0
Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1990–2005 41 40 1 50 8 2 2 0

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most points in a matchEdit

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1. Pierre Hola Centre 39 1 17 0 0   South Korea   Nuku'alofa 22/03/2003
2. Fangatapu Apikotoa Fly-half 30 2 10 0 0   South Korea   Henderson 10/02/2007
3. Sateki Tu'ipulotu Fullback 27 1 8 2 0   South Korea   Seoul 04/05/1999
4. Benhur Kivalu Fly-half 25 5 0 0 0   South Korea   Nuku'alofa 22/03/2003
5. Pierre Hola Fullback 24 0 9 1 1   Papua New Guinea   Nuku'alofa 07/12/2002
6. Gustavo Tonga Fullback 23 1 9 0 0   Cook Islands   Nuku'alofa 05/07/1997
7. Viliame Iongi Centre 20 4 0 0 0   United States   Esher 08/06/2011
Kurt Morath Fly-half 20 0 4 4 0   Fiji   Lautoka 02/07/2011
Sonatane Takulua Scrum-half 20 1 3 3 0   Samoa   Nuku'alofa 01/07/2017
10. 3 players on 19 points

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most tries in a matchEdit

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1. Benhur Kivalu Number 8 25 5 0 0 0   South Korea   Nuku'alofa 22/03/2003
2. Viliame Iongi Wing 20 4 0 0 0   United States   Esher 08/06/2011
3. Josh Taumalolo Fly-half 15 3 0 0 0   Cook Islands   Nuku'alofa 05/07/1997
Josh Taumalolo Fullback 17 3 1 0 0   Georgia   Tbilisi 28/03/1999
Jonathan Koloi Flanker 15 3 0 0 0   South Korea   Seoul 04/05/1999
Viliami Hakalo Wing 15 3 0 0 0   Cook Islands   Raratonga 24/06/2006
7. 46 players on 2 tries

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most matches as captainEdit

# Player Pos Span Mat Won Lost Draw % Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1. Nili Latu Flanker 2006– 42 15 26 1 36.90 23 4 0 1 0
2. Siale Piutau Wing 2015- 13 8 5 0 61.53 5 1 0 0 0
3. Inoke Afeaki Lock 2001–2003 12 4 8 0 33.33 15 3 0 0 0
4. Fakahau Valu Flanker 1977–1987 11 0 11 0 0.00 12 3 0 0 0
5. Aleki Lutui Hooker 2004–2011 9 1 8 0 11.11 5 1 0 0 0
Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 1999–2001 9 4 5 0 44.44 15 3 0 0 0
7. Sione Mafi Pahulu Number 8 1973–1975 7 1 6 0 14.28 15 3 0 1 0
8. Siaosi Atiola Number 8 1987–1990 6 1 4 1 25.00 4 1 0 0 0
9. Mana Otai Number 8 1995 5 3 2 0 60.00 5 1 0 0 0
Fe'ao Vunipola Hooker 1994–1998 5 2 3 0 40.00 0 0 0 0 0

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Youngest playersEdit

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1. Elisi Vunipola Fly-half 17 years and 292 days   Fiji   Nukualofa 24/03/1990
2. Sione Kalamafoni (Flanker) 18 years and 268 days   South Korea   Henderson 10/02/2007
3. Soane Havea Scrum-half 18 years and 292 days   New Zealand   North Shore City 16/06/2000
4. Semi Taupeaafe Wing 18 years and 317 days   Fiji   Suva 11/06/1991
5. Sinali Latu Number 8 18 years and 320 days   Fiji   Suva 07/07/1984
6. Unuoi Va'enuku Centre 19 years and 51 days   France   Pretoria 26/05/1995
7. Viliami Hakalo (Wing) 19 years and 53 days   Japan   Fukuoka 04/06/2006
8. Pita Alatini Centre 19 years and 119 days   Samoa   Nuku'alofa 08/07/1995
9. Tevita 'Ahoafi (Scrum-half) 19 years and 171 days   Australia A   Sydney 25/05/2007
10. Isi Tapueluelu Centre 19 years and 176 days   Fiji   Nuku'alofa 24/03/1990

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Oldest playersEdit

# Player Pos Age Opposition Venue Date
1. Aleki Lutui (Hooker) 37 years and 95 days   Argentina   Leicester 04/10/2015
2. Joe Tuineau Lock 36 years and 302 days   Samoa   Suva 16/06/2018
3. Hale T-Pole Lock 36 years and 152 days   Namibia   Exeter 29/09/2015
4. Elvis Taione Hooker 36 years and 76 days   Canada   Lautoka 08/08/2019
5. Rudi Kapeli Hooker 35 years and 311 days   Australia   Brisbane 04/07/1993
6. Tukulua Lokotui Lock 35 years and 282 days   New Zealand   Newcastle 09/10/2015
7. Vunga Lilo Wing 35 years and 269 days   Georgia   Tbilisi 24/11/2018
8. Kuli Faletau Lock 35 years and 185 days   Canada   Nuku'alofa 03/07/1999
9. Nili Latu Flanker 35 years and 132 days   Samoa   Nuku'alofa 01/07/2017
10. Alaska Taufa Centre 35 years and 123 days   Georgia   Tbilisi 24/11/2018

Last updated: Tonga vs Canada, 9 August 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Kit historyEdit

Tonga usually wears a home kit consistent of a red shirt, white shorts and red socks and an away kit with the reversed colours. In the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Tonga wore an all-red home kit. Since 2007, Tongan traditional designs, similar to the ones found on the tapa cloths, were incorporated on the jersey design.

Kit Manufacturers:

  • 1970s-1999 Canterbury
  • 2000-2002 Carisbrook
  • 2003-2005 Sekem
  • 2005-2008 KooGa
  • 2008 Samurai Sportswear^a
  • 2008-2010 Aoniu^b
  • 2011-2012 KooGa/BLK
  • 2012-2015 Kukri
  • 2016- Mizuno
  • ^a Tonga wore Samurai Sportswear kits in the matches against Maori All Blacks and Japan in 2008
  • ^b Tonga wore kits manufactured by the local brand Aoniu in the 2008 end-of-year international tours.

CoachesEdit

Name Span Mat Won Lost Draw %
  Fred Wolfgramm[4] 1985
  Prince Mailefihi 1986-1987
  Fakahau Valu 1995
  Polutele Tuʻihalamaka 1999-2000
  Vaita Ueleni 2000-2001
  Jim Love 2001–2003 19 6 13 0 31.58
  Willie Ofahengaue 2004–2005 8 0 8 0 0.00
  Adam Leach 2006–2007 7 5 2 0 71.43
  Quddus Fielea 2007–2010 16 5 11 0 31.25
  Isitolo Maka 2010–2011 14 7 7 0 50.00
  Toutai Kefu (caretaker) 2012 3 1 2 0 33.33
  Mana Otai 2012–2015 24 11 12 1 47.91
  Toutai Kefu 2016–

Notable Former PlayersEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Haka and Sipi Tau set Lang Park alight ABC
  2. ^ a b "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  3. ^ Tonga rugby stats
  4. ^ "2019 Rugby World Cup Ikale Tahi Mate Maa Tonga Supporters Page". www.facebook.com.

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit