By Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
Following a successul year for the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union (PNGRFU) with the Palais improving the standard of women’s rugby in the country, and the Pukpuk 7s qualifying for the IRB Sevens Circuit in over 10 years, crisis has now hit PNGRFU as off-field player conduct has put pressure on the organisation.
Through a number of organisational reshuffles earlier in the year, the pressure to now uphold the good reputation of rugby union lay in the hands of the PNGRFU.
While rugby is renowned worldwide as a family-oriented sport, here in Papua New Guinea off-field mischief is slowly stripping the sport off its good reputation.
Earlier in the year, during the National Provincial Sevens tournament, misconduct on the field caused a stir as violence and abuse brought the game to a standstill.
Players were banned, and clubs were heavily sanctioned.
As the year went on, PNGRFU made internal changes, with Frank Genia being announced as general manager, Sailosi Druma upholding the rugby development saga, and Fijian coaches Elenoa Kunatuba and Fereti Verebula improving the standards of sevens rugby nationwide.
In October, the SP Export Sevens boys created history, making the cut into international rugby after 10 years.
However, successled to controversy. The PNGRFU were accused of stripping players of their player entitlements, with claims lashing all over social media that players weren’t paid.
Following these allegations that are yet to be confirmed by the PNGRFU, three renowned national reps, including one latest inclusion to the team, damaged PNGRFU property at the Monier Rugby Park.
While there has been very little publicity on the issue, the PNGRFU is left to deal with the problem caused by the four national reps, and the positive image of rugby in Papua New Guinea now remains uncertain.