by Lorraine Genia – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
The growing partnership between SP Export Lager and PNG Rugby Football Union (PNGRFU) over the last 10 years was once again renewed yesterday, at the announcement of a rugby championship, and national sevens series.
Over the course of the year’s PNG rugby has seen a steady growth in participation figures, and by 2015 were recognised as the largest participation union in the region, now ranked 18th in the world.
Through the PNGRFU’s mass participation programs, the union identified the urgent need to establish a higher level of competition in the country – through provincial rugby.
PNGRFU’s General Manager Frank Genia said “the partnership with the Export Lager brand will enable PNGRFU to establish two provincial rugby competitions in the country – the export rugby championships, and the export sevens series.”
The championships will consist of 12 provincial teams, competing within three respective conferences, the Southern Conference, Northern and New Guinea Islands.
The national sevens series will consist of five legs – determined by three factors – player base, centralised location, and potential to identify new talent and increase senior rugby participation.
National Coaching Director of the PNGRFU, Sydney Wesley, says this will be an exciting prospect as it not only reignites the flame that was once there before the code went downhill, but it will encourage mass participation and build on more talent in rural PNG.
The PNGRFU have long had the backing of corporate houses to fund and support competitions as such. Now with an opportunity to demonstrate the length in which rugby can excel abroad, the union looks set to take rugby to greater heights.