By Jana Zoriry
The Papua New Guinea National Women Rugby Sevens team the PNG Palais are leaving next Month for Monaco.
The side is eyeing one of the two spots available for women teams taking part in the Olympic Repechage tournament which will take place in Monaco between 19-20 June.
The World Rugby Sevens Repechage tournament is the final part of the global qualifying process.
The repechage tournament is a one-off event to determine the final two women’s and one men’s teams to qualify for the rugby sevens competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were delayed until 2021.
Twelve teams will play the repechage event in both the women’s competition and 10 in the men’s.
The Palais are in Pool B with Kazakhstan, Jamaica and Tunisia.
The top two teams in each pool, plus the two third-placed teams with the highest point totals will qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
As there are two Olympic qualification places available for women, the Repechage will feature two rounds of knockout games with the final round featuring four teams competing in two matches where both winners gain Olympic qualification and claim their tickets to Tokyo.
Palais preparation has been impacted severely by COVID-19 restrictions, they have only recently returned to training.
But they are keeping their spirits high.
Captain Kymlie Rapilla in an interview with World Rugby said “it’s been tough but we’ve managed.”
Head Coach Paul Tietjens, who has been watching the team’s preparations from New Zealand, remain confident about his young side.
The team leaves for Monaco next Month. We wish the side ‘the best of luck’!
Should Palais secure one of the two women’s sevens places up for grabs at the Olympic Repechage tournament, they might just become the first team to take part in a team sport at a Olympic Games.
Since making our Olympic debut in 1976, a year after gaining independence, PNG has sent teams to every Summer Games, bar Moscow 1980, but is yet to compete in a team sport.
The closest PNG has come to participate in a team event is the men’s 4x400m relays, in which PNG competed at both Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.