Rugby league in Papua New Guinea


Rugby league in Papua New Guinea

Sport overview
country = Papua New Guinea
sport = rugby league


imagesize =
caption =
union = Papua New Guinea National Rugby League
nickname =
first = 1930s
registered = 15,000 (total) [http://www.insidefootballonline.com/aus_04072007.html]
10,000(adult), 5000 (junior)
clubs = 280
match =
league =
national1 =
club1 =
club2 =
club3 =
club4 =
club5 =
club6 =
club7 =
country

Rugby league is a popular team sport in Papua New Guinea, and indeed is generally regarded as the national sport.

Papua New Guinean rugby league has been hampered by the poor infrastructure in the country, and national competitions have proven difficult to sustain. Violence at large games has also become something of a problem, and the major Test nations have tended to be reluctant to tour Papua New Guinea due to safety concerns. Nonetheless rugby league remains the dominant sport, and is played across the nation, with competitions in major cities and rural regions alike.

History

Papua New Guinea first came into contact during the gold rush in the 1930s through Australians miners. [ [http://www.rlwc08.com/teams/PapuaNewGuinea.aspx Rugby League World Cup 2008 Teams ] ] Australian soldiers stationed in the country during and after the Second World War reintroduced the sport and 1949 is the official year given for the foundation of rugby league in Papua New Guinea. It quickly became a popular spectator sport.

During the 1960s rugby league grew to be the clear national sport of the country. [ [http://groups.msn.com/PNGKumuls/history.msnw?pgmarket=en-us PNG Kumuls' ] ] Despite being the most popular spectator sport, rugby league was mainly played by Australians and New Zealanders at this time. It wasn't until over the following decade did participation numbers grow to reflect spectator numbers.

The governing body for rugby league in Papua New Guinea became members of the Rugby League International Federation in 1974 and the national team's first ever Test match was a 40-12 home defeat by Great Britain a year later. They first competed in the Rugby League World Cup in the 1985-89 competition.

A record attendance was established at the Papua New Guinea Grand Final held at the Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby on Sunday 8th September 1985. Despite heavy showers it was estimated that 18,000 spectators turned up to see Hobar West defeat Air Niugini by 14 points to nil.

The "SP Inter-City Cup" is the national competition and was first held in 1990.

Papua New Guinea was represented by Port Moresby Vipers in the Queensland Cup competition in 1996 and 1997.

The SP Cup was not held in the 2004 season due to funding problems, but the competition returned in 2005 as the Papua New Guinea National Rugby League (PNGRL).

The national team

The Papua New Guinea national rugby league team are nicknamed "Kumuls" after the bird of paradise, a national symbol of the country. Their first ever Test match was a 40-12 home defeat by Great Britain in 1975.

They compete in the Rugby League World Cup and first entered a team in the 1985-89 competition, though it was not until the 1995 Rugby League World Cup that they were able to win away from home.

The Papua New Guinea national rugby league team usually play against the Australian national rugby league team each year in Port Moresby. It is such a popular fixture that thousands of people can't get into the ground once it's full, causing people to climb onto the stadium roof or up trees outside the ground in order to see the match. The limited capacity of the stadium for this fixture often sparks riots. Spectators clashed with riot police during this fixture in 2006.

Popularity

Rugby league is the most popular sport in Papua New Guinea (especially in the Highlands region) and is commonly referred to as the national sport. In a nation where communities are far apart and many people live at a minimal subsistence level, rugby league has been described as a replacement for tribal warfare as a way of explaining the local enthusiasm for the game (a matter of life and death).

The annual Australian State of Origin matches are the most watched sporting event of the year. Australian rugby league players who have played in the annual (Australian) State of Origin clash, which is celebrated feverishly every year in Papua New Guinea, are among the most well known identities throughout the nation.

During the 2000 Rugby League World Cup an estimated audience of 2 million watched the Kumuls lose to the Welsh Dragons in the quarter finals in the early hours of the morning local time. Despite this loss over 50 000 fans welcomed the team at Port Moresby Airport later that week. [ [http://groups.msn.com/PNGKumuls/history.msnw?pgmarket=en-us PNG Kumuls' ] ]

Participation

Rugby league has a huge participation rate in the junior level with 50% of the population under 20 playing Rugby LeagueFact|date=September 2008 and every school in the country involved in a rugby league competition.Fact|date=April 2008 There are 5000 registered players between the ages of 12 and 18.Fact|date=September 2008

There are 10,000 registered senior players. They compete in 40 affiliated Leagues around the country. Each League has a minimum of seven clubs and each club has four teams.Fact|date=April 2008

Governing body

The governing body for rugby league in Papua New Guinea is based in Port Moresby. They have been members of the Rugby League International Federation since 1974. The League has suffered financially due to member leagues not paying affiliation fees.

Papua New Guinea National Rugby League

2005 saw the re-integration of the new look Papua New Guinea National Rugby League (PNGRL), formerly known as the SP Inter-City Cup. The competition is made up of nine teams from various cities or provinces around Papua New Guinea all playing for the SP Cup. The competition follows the conventional Australian NRL format, with 26 round robin games followed by the top 4 teams entering the finals playoffs. The current competition is made up of the following teams:

Island 'Agmark' Gurias Home Ground: Kalabond Field, Kokopo

Mendi Muruks Home Ground: Madang

Lae Bombers Home Ground: Lae

Toyota Enga Mioks Home Ground: Johnson Siki Aipus Oval, Wabag

Mt Hagen Cowboys Home Ground: Mt. Hagen Show Ground, Mt Hagen

Goroka Lahanis Home Ground: Sir Danny Leahy Oval, Goroka

Central Province Raiders Home Ground: Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby

Port Moresby Bulldogs Home Ground: Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby

Pagini Warriors Home Ground: Lae

Other teams to have participated but who have since been relegated are South Port Moresby Broncos (2005) and Simbu Angrass (2005).

History of SP Cup premiers

1990 Port Moresby Vipers def. MT Hagen
1991 Port Moresby Vipers def. MT Hagen
1992 Port Moresby Vipers def. MT Hagen
1993 Goroka Lahinis def. Port Moresby Vipers
1994 Port Moresby Vipers def. Goroka Lahinis
1995 Lae Bombers def. Mendi Muruks
1996 Mendi Muruks def. Kuniawa Warriors
1997 MT Hagen Eagles def. Lae Bombers
1998 MT Hagen Eagles def. Mendi Muruks
1999 Goroka Lahinis def. Island Rabaul Gurias
2000 Enga Mioks def. Island Rabaul Gurias
2001 Island Rabaul Gurias def. Goroka Lahinis
2002 Lae Bombers def. Island Rabaul Gurias
2003 Island Rabaul Guirias def. Lae Bombers
2004 Mendi Menjals1 def. Popondetta Butterflies
2005 Island Gurias def. Port Moresby Bulldogs
2006 Mendi Muruks def. Goroka Lahanis

1 The official SP Inter City Cup did not take place in 2004 due to lack of finance, however, the equivalent competition was the inaugural Coca-Cola Ipatas Cup.

Other competitions

Below the SP Cup exist many local and provincial competitions, the most prestigious of which is the Port Moresby League. In 2007 a new league called the Nokondi Cup was created for teams in the Eastern Highlands province.

A Port Moresby team(The Port Moresby Vipers) competed in the Panasonic Cup in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989; and in the Queensland Cup in 1996 and 1997.

Notable players

Many Papua New Guineans have gone on to play professional rugby league either in the National Rugby League in Australia or Super League in Europe. It is the goal of the PNGRL to have 120 players participating in the NRL and Super League by 2010. [ [http://www.rlwc08.com/teams/PapuaNewGuinea.aspx Rugby League World Cup 2008 Teams ] ]

*Marcus Bai - became a national celebrity after he played in the National Rugby League with Melbourne Storm and later went to play in Super League
*Adrian Lam
*Stanley Gene
*Neville Costigan
*John Wilshere
*Paul Aiton
*Makali Aizue
*Arnold Kerwanty

References

See also

* Sport in Papua New Guinea


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