OPINION COLUMN: More should be done in Papua New Guinea

Rugby League should do a lot more in Papua New Guinea than what it currently does.

There is a huge demand for the game in Papua New Guinea, with it being the only country in the world where Rugby League is the national sport.

But it’s not just that tag as to why there should be more done in the country. The fans are crazy and really get behind their team, win or lose.

And I’m not taking anything away from the PNGRFL, because they have come on a lot in recent years.

The PNGRFL was established in 1949 and it quickly grew in the country, with Rugby League becoming the national sport in 1960 and the crowd figures were excellent as well as participation levels.

Port Moresby, a hotbed for Rugby League in Papua New Guinea, held their first World Cup game since 1991 last weekend as they crushed Wales 50-6.

And PNG’s pathway to progress through the tournament is a little bit easier for them this time, compared to the one of past World Cups as they don’t face the big three in the group stage.

The Kumuls’ best ever World Cup campaign was in 2000 when they reached the quarter-finals and they certainly look on course to equal that record this time around, if not going one better and reaching the semi-finals.

The Kumuls played their first ever Test match in 1974 against Great Britain but the Lions were too strong on the day as they won 40-12 at the Lloyd Robinson Oval in Port Moresby.

They were welcomed into the 1985-89 Rugby League World Cup and caused an upset as they beat New Zealand in Port Moresby.

But apart from that historic victory, they have since struggled in World Cups and especially in games against the likes of Australia, New Zealand and England.

However, the PNGRFL have done something about improving the game in the country such as developments to national club competitions and annual games against the Prime Ministers XIII and the Pacific Tests.

The big development for the domestic game though is the PNG Hunters team who compete in the Intrust (Queensland) Super Cup and quite remarkably, they won the competition this year as they beat the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

Rugby League is on the rise in Papua New Guinea with more schools playing the game, Nines tournaments being played as well as a Women’s team gaining popularity.

There is always something happening involving Rugby League in Papua New Guinea in the calendar year, with Nines and Gala events taking place when the domestic competitions are in the closed season.

And judging from the aforementioned paragraphs, there are quite a few ideas that the RFL can implement in the UK from the PNGRFL’s plan of action.

But there is still so much more that can be done with Rugby League in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea will play their three group games of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in Port Moresby which is great but in my opinion, there should be other games, that don’t include the Kumuls, hosted in the nation.

Why? Because it would grow the sport rather than just a nation’s team.

Imagine if Port Moresby hosted the Australia v England game? The best players in the world would have been on show and the fans would have been equally as entertained.

I also think having a World Cup hosted in Papua New Guinea alone would be massive for expansion of the sport. But I’m a realist and know that there needs to be a lot of things in place first to make that happen. But, how great would that be?

Or even a Four Nations tournament, it would bring great exposure to both the country and the sport.

What about England playing a mid-season game against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby? That sounds good to me.

I’m a big fan of the Toronto Wolfpack, Catalans Dragons and New York franchises but with those teams, you need to start from scratch but with Papua New Guinea, all the foundations are already in place.

With expansion in Rugby League, you either are all for it or totally against it. There aren’t many at all who seem to be in the middle. But, whatever your thoughts are on the matter, Papua New Guinea already has a platform to grow and they certainly have potential to become one of the greater Rugby League nations in the future.

Do you agree with this column? Or are you against it? Let us know in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Mid season tests with England sounds good to me. The next thing our rugby league administrators should look to do is improve logistical arrangements to enable us to host night time games to make it more bearable for our opponents from either sides of the equator.

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