Rugby PNG heading for exciting times

The PNG Pukpuks and Palais (pictured) will both attend the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

PORT MORESBY, 30 OCTOBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – Papua New Guinea Palais will open their campaign in the 2018 Oceania Women’s Rugby Championships in Fiji next month.

The tournament has attracted teams from Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and hosts Fiji who will play in a round robin format from Friday (November 16) to Saturday (November 24).

The event will be held at the Churchill Park in Lautoka.

The Palais will play their opening match against Samoa Manusina, while defending champions Fiji Airways Fijiana face off against Tonga in the second match to end round one.

Oceania Rugby general manager Bruce Cook said the Oceania Rugby women’s championships will play an integral part in building a platform to further promote and develop women’s rugby in the XVs code in Oceania region.

“We are entering some exciting times in the region for Women’s Rugby, and we are delighted to have four teams from within the Pacific take part in this year’s Oceania Rugby Women’s Championships,” he said.

“The Championships will serve as key development and performance pathway for our girls and young women in the Pacific. And it will provide opportunity for our aspiring young women from the region to represent their countries and play regular international tests.”

In hosting the Women’s Championship for the second consecutive time, Fiji Rugby chief executive officer John O’Conner affirmed the importance of Women’s Rugby and its growth in Fiji.

“We are really honored to be hosting the Women’s 15s Championship in partnership with Oceania Rugby and the Fiji National Sports Commission,” O’Connor said.

He said the tournament will showcase the emerging strength of international women’s rugby and provide a platform for our Fiji Airways Fijiana to work twoards the 2021 World Rugby Women’s World Cup.

“To have four teams from across the Pacific, here in Fiji, we hope will encourage more women and girls to pick up the ball and start playing rugby.”

Meanwhile, Great strides have been made in recent times on the administrative front to help propel rugby union to being among the leading sports in Papua New Guinea, providing increased opportunities for young men and women to showcase their natural talents at the national and international levels.

The game has gone through challenging times following disagreements at the national body level, but that is now a thing of the past as both factions have merged to move the game forward in Papua New Guinea.

Relationships with World Rugby and Oceania Rugby have also been restored.

The short-term priority objectives for the new team are re-establishing the communication with provincial unions to allow for the staging of an annual general meeting in early 2019, adoption of a new constitution and ensuring our national men’s and women’s 7s teams qualify for Hong Kong 7s, Sydney 7s and Hamilton 7s through the Oceania 7s Tournament in Fiji.

Oceania Rugby will be hosting a workshop for a proposed new Constitution in early December. This will lead into an AGM in early 2019.

Well known sports administrator Syd Yates, OBE, is now the chairman of the Interim Board of PNG Rugby (“the Interim Board”) and is being supported by equally experienced administrators and managers in President Ben Frame, Vice President Robert Nilkare, Treasurer Nathan Chang and Honorary Secretary Michael Uiari, as they set out to steady the ship and propel the sport back to the fore in enjoying the popularity that those passionate about the sport all want.

Yates said one of the most crucial challenges facing the game is to restore the governance structure, create stability and restore confidence with key stakeholders

One of the critical steps for the interim board as part of the rebuilding process is improved governance and transparency. As such roles within PNG Rugby have been advertised on the open market and the Interim Board has been working with KTK Accountants and KPMG to finalise outstanding Audited Financial Statements for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The Interim Board has made the following appointments, at this stage with more positions to be reviewed and advertised:

* PNG ITCSI South Pacific Women’s 7s Head Coach, Paul Tietjens;

Paul is the current NSW Waratahs Men’s 7s coach, has worked with Samoa Rugby 7s as S& C Trainer and is former 7s Head Coach of Bay of Plenty in New Zealand

The Interim Board thanks John Larry for his contribution as Coach of the PNG 7s Women’s team over the last 6 years. John came in at a time when women’s rugby was in its infancy and has distinguished himself.

* PNG ICTSI South Pacific Palais 15s Head Coach, John Pangkatana. John has been appointed 15s Women’s coach for the Oceania 15’s Tournament in Fiji. He is a past coach of the Pukpuks 15s and the University Piggies club in the National Capital District.

The Interim Board expects to announce the appointment of a Rugby Administrator within the next week.

Yates said the signals were positive given the strides that have been made on the administrative front and that World Rugby, the international federation for the sport, was looking at providing funding which was last made available in 2016.

While it is critical that the Interim Board start working with the Provincial Unions to assist them to revitalise the sport in the provinces, he is cognisant that “we need to push ahead with our international programme with the Oceania 7s in Suva, Fiji on November 9-10 being the immediate engagement we are preparing for”.

Yates said that rugby is a game that is played globally and citing the HSBC World 7s Series as an example, players can be playing the game fulltime and be making some good income for their services. On the Men’s 7s program, being from a tier 2 nation together with Solomon Islands, PNG is drawn in the same pool as tier one country Fiji for the men in a tournament that also involves Australia and New Zealand, who have been grouped in different pools.

The PNG women are drawn in the same pool as Australia, Samoa and Nauru.The Oceania Rugby teams who have pre – qualified for the HSBC SWS 2018/2019 are as follows – Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa in the men’s competition and Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in the women’s Competition.

The Mintt PNG Rugby Men’s 7s need to finish as the highest placed non-core team in the 2018 Oceania Rugby 7s Men’s Championship to allow qualification for the 2018/2019 HSBC Word Sevens Series Legs in Hamilton (January 26 – 27, 2019), Sydney (February 2 – 3, 2019) and Hong Kong (April 5th – 7th, 2019).

The ICTSI South Pacific Palais need to finish as the highest placed non-core team in the 2018 Oceania Rugby Sevens Women’s Championship to allow qualification for the 2018/2019 HSBC Word Sevens Series Legs in Sydney (February 2 – 3, 2019) and Hong Kong (April 5th – 7th, 2019).

PNG Rugby would like to take this opportunity to thank all the corporate sponsors that have shown trust in where we are looking to take the game of Rugby in PNG as well as the vision for building the game back at the grassroots level.

A further thank you to the supporters of Rugby across Papua New Guinea who have not lost faith but have continued to turn up every week to support and play the game they love.

In particular we would like to thank the following corporations for helping assist to make this year’s Oceania 7s Campaign a reality: ICTSI South Pacific, Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited Credit Corporation Mintt.

The Mintt Men’s 7s Squad for the Western Sydney 7s (November 3-4) and Oceania 7s (November 10-11) is as follows: Henry Kalua, Joseph Mocke, Samuel Malambes, Patrick Tatut, Emmanuel Guise, Hensley Peter, Arthur Clement, Emil Latumahina, Freddy Rova, William Tirang

Dean Manale, Himah Alu, Coach: Douglas Guise, Manager: Kapua Kapua, Physio: Hendriella Vilosi.

The team for theWestern Sydney 7s (November 3-4) is as follows: Geua Larry, Marie Biyama, Taiva Lavai, Cassandra Sampson, Joanne Lagona, Chelsea Garesa, Michaelyne Arumbi, Kymlie Rapilla, Fatima Rama, Gwen Pokana, Yolanda Gittins, Marlugu Dixon, Gemma Schnaubelt, Anika Butler, Melanie Kawa, Coach: Paul Tietjens, Team Manager: Ann Mooney, Physio: Hendriella Vilosi.

The ICTSI South Pacific PNG Women’s 7s squad will then be trimmed back to 12 players for the Oceania 7s set for November 10-11 in Fiji.

Some of the sevens players will also be also available for the Palais 15s squad which will be heading to Fiji in just under two weeks to take part in the Ocean Rugby Women’s Championships.

Due to the late notice, the PNGRFU is having a trial tomorrow to the finalise the Palais 15s squad at the Sir John Guise Stadium at 3pm. All players from registered competitions are welcome to turn up and vie for selection in the trial matches.

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