Rugby union in turmoil


RUGBY union is in the middle of a power struggle after an interim executive set up last month voted in Peter Tsiamalili Junior as its president last Thursday in Port Moresby.
The Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union reacted by issuing a press statement yesterday that called the new body illegal and criticised  it for disregarding due process in terms of an annual general meeting where the issue of presidency and other governance matters could be have been addressed.
PNGRFU vice-president Ben Frame condemned the actions of the new body and in particular the individuals, who had taken it upon themselves to wrest control of the code from the lawfully elected executive, had no standing with the World Rugby and their conduct would put the union in jeopardy with its relation with the world body.
“The PNGRFU hereby makes this statement in an official response to the article dated Nov 10, 2016, wherein Michael Uiari, Nathan Chang, Gabriel Tika, Michael Bai, Clarence Palin and Boudie Meapo tried to illegally install themselves as the interim executives of the PNGRFU,” the statement said.
“These actions have been strongly condemned, by World Rugby, Oceania Rugby and the current PNGRFU elected board members.”
Frame said the “illegal” interim committee had been given ample opportunity to retract their appointments but to date the PNGRFU office had received no reponse.
The PNGRFU president’s position was left vacant by Richard Sapias in May when he took up the Oceania Rugby presidency.
Since then Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko publically backed PNG Sports Foundation chief executive officer Peter Tsiamalili Jr for the role after he expressed an interest in the position.
However, his intentions were met with opposition from the PNGRFU executive as well as some members of the rugby fraternity who claimed there would be a conflict of interest if he were to be president.
Frame was critical of the move by the Port Moresby-based group who had not accepted his invitation to discuss their grievances – two of which were the validity of the code’s constitution and the the union’s registration as an entity with the Investment and Promotion Authority.
The deferral of the AGM from August to December had also upset some in the union. Frame claimed that individuals had been trying to push their own agenda to enforce a change in the current board and management, and had done so in an illegal and incorrect manner.
The the current PNGRFU board had deferred the 2016 AGM to next month, for the following reasons:

  • Clarification around nominations for candidates for the position of president, in particular the chief executive officer of the PNG Sports Foundation standing for the position;
  • Non-compliance issues from affiliate member unions;
  • Financial statements needed to be completed prior to the AGM.
    Frame said the PNGRFU wanted stakeholders to know that the illegally appointed interim committee had committed fraudulent actions:
  • Approaching the IPA assuming the roles as Interim Executives;
  • Assuming the roles of the Executive functions including the Board Chairman and management;
  • Making public announcements unlawfully using PNGRFU letterheads.

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