Oceania Cup a catalyst to propel rugby union among tier nations

PORT MORESBY, 21 AUGUST 2019 (POST COURIER) – Rugby union among tier three countries like Papua New Guinea is set for re-growth.

Oceania Rugby Competitions Manager Wayne Schuster who is in Port Moresby to assist stage the Oceania Cup in a four-prong challenge between Niue, Solomon Islands, debutant Nauru and the Papua New Guinea Pukpuks said the timing is right to reinvigorate this program which experienced a break in its continuity over the last two years.

Nauru and Niue arrived in Port Moresby with the Solomon Islands to follow suit today to prepare for the regional challenge which starts this Friday at the PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

Schuster said: “It’s time for us propel our tier three nations to be on par with the rest.

“After a bit of a break that stemmed from inconsistency and homegrown issues by the tier three nations over the last two editions since the last successful one in 2016 in Port Moresby, this tournament is set to provide the catalyst needed to get back on track.

“Oceania Rugby sees the importance of keeping the interest alive and by way of access, this tournament will again give our tier three nations purpose and meaning to their respective rugby development.

“We (Oceania Rugby) believe this tournament will propel our performance developing nations to find their feet again as we look towards staging the Oceania championships on an annual basis.

“This is unlike the past when it was run biennially and really didn’t serve the purpose as it meant our tier three nations were not playing international matches in the 15s arena on a regular basis.”

Schuster further said that evidence of that was when the Cook Islands were showed up in 2018 during  Rugby World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong.

“It was quite an incomparable result when you consider we use the Oceania championships as a pathway.

“Given that questions needed to be asked whether we are providing enough meaningful competition for our tier three nations to be competitive.”

Schuster further made the point by saying that the staging of the Oceania Cup could be best described as a leap of faith as they are really making an effort to reach out to stakeholders in Port Moresby to build some form of relationships to enable this tournament to be sustainable to be run for the next four years.

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