Oceania Cup gives more opportunity for island nations to participate

Rhyse Martin of the PNG Kumuls is tackled by the Vodafone Fiji Bati players during an earlier match. Picture: SUPPLIED

PORT MORESBY,22 NOVEMBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – The Oceania Cup is an extension of what the Pacific Test series, more importantly a trophy league tournament that provides participants from the Pacific Island nations to compete in more test matches.

PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka said rather than playing one test in the middle of the year, the Rugby League International Federation has opted for a trophy league tournament.

“The midyear test will be around June-July whilst the end of year will be in November which is played in two pools, pool A & pool B,” said Tsaka.

It depends on the teams ranking whether to stay on Pool A or Pool B as per the results. Depending on results in one year the loser of the last place team in Pool A goes back to pool B and the top place moves on.

With this approach taken by the RLIF, Tsaka said that the Great Britain Lions will be making a tour of New Zealand.

“Great Britain comprises of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England so it is a big tour for them leading up to the 2021 World Cup which will be hosted in England,” he said.

“We were fortunate during the RLIF meeting to sit down with Great Britain and the RLIF and work out the calendar where all our Pacific nations will get to play Great Britain.”

They are playing all the other Pacific Island nations in New Zealand but they get to play in PNG at Oil Search National Football Stadium on their way back.

“It has been penciled in that on their way back from New Zealand we will host them and the Kumuls will play them here in Port Moresby,” Tsaka said.

The details of the actual tour and the Oceania Cup will be announced in early December.

PNG will also be looking forward to participate in the inaugural 9s rugby league tournament next year.

There will be 10 teams for the men and four teams for the women but teams have not been finalised yet so invitations will be sent out by January.

“It is an entertaining brand of football and with the Pacific Games held this year, Papua New Guinea is looking at defending the 9s gold medal and also hoping to get invited to the world 9s event.

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