By Elijah Lavett – EMTV Sport, Port Moresby
The PNG Rugby League International playing calendar was launched today at the Oil Search National Football Stadium. This year will see the PNG LNG Kumuls and the Oil Search PNG Orchids take part in various international matches over the next eight months. This is a significant milestone for rugby league in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region. There was no proper set international playing calendar in the past for countries in the Pacific Region.
The mid-year Pacific Test, supported by the NRL, was the only program which provided a brief avenue for international teams in the Pacific to compete. In 2017 the Rugby League World Cup showcased the talent and competitiveness in the Pacific Region.
The Oceania Cup is a new Pacific rugby league tournament that the PNG Kumuls will be taking part in, which features 6 teams. PNG has been placed in pool B with Samoa and Fiji, while Tonga, New Zealand and Australia have been placed in Pool A. Pool A will play for a trophy while Pool B will play for a shield. The winner of Pool B will be moved to Pool A while the last placed team in pool A will be relegated to Pool B in next year’s tournament.
This tournament is a joint venture between the International Federation, New Zealand Rugby League, England Rugby League and PNGRFL. Apart from the Oceania Cup, there will also be a Great Britain Lions tour. New Zealand and PNG will be playing host to the Lions.
After 22 years, the Lions will be visiting Papua New Guinea finishing their tour here in PNG when they take on the Kumuls here at the Oil Search National Football Stadium.
The PNG Kumuls will play their first match against Samoa on the 22nd of June in Sydney, their 2nd on the 9th of November in New Zealand and the last match here in Port Moresby at the Oil Search National Football Stadium on the 16th of November against the Great Britain Lions