By Lorraine Genia – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
The PNG Pukpuks inexcusable performance in Hong Kong has struck concerns within the rugby fraternity, questioning whether or not the PNG Rugby Football Union (PNGRFU) are doing enough, or if the coaching staff are up to scratch.
General Manager of the PNGRFU, Frank Genia, released a statement following the national team’s three straight losses, saying the weekend serves as a harsh but invaluable learning curve for the players and staff.
Placed in Pool F the PNG Pukpuks were up against Spain, Chile and Mexico. Losing all three matches, 17-15 against Mexico, 19-7 to Chile and 33-0 against a hot Spanish outfit was rather embarrassing, and not a crowd pleaser for the fan’s back home in Papua New Guinea.
A massive contributing factor to the team’s loss abroad – the absence of international game time, prior to the tournament. Something the PNGRFU acknowledged in their recent statement.
“The results over the weekend were not ideal, it has emphasised to us the need for regular tough international competition against world class opponents, to develop our game to the level required to be competitive on the world stage,” said Genia.
This year’s team had at least nine new players that had not competed in the same tournament last year, and the average age of the current team is only 22. While a win, is what everyone wants – players have been identified over the past six months with long-term plans and objective in mind and this tournament was the first at such a level for them.
“To have the opportunity to observe how players and staff from the professional programs we were competing against as well as those professional teams currently on the world series has already taught us a lot about the short falls in our game. It is our intention that these lessons are applied to our programs in both the men’s and women’s program here in PNG to ensure these programs do develop to world standards and ultimately produce world class players and teams that will do PNG proud on the world stage,” Genia added.
Regardless of the result, the Pukpuks remain committed to improving their standard at further upcoming tournamen’s, with Hong Kong being a good learning curve.