BY HUXLEY LOVAI
A TOTAL of 24 teams are set to take part in the Export National Provincial Championship Sevens tournament at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Port Moresby, starting tomorrow.
The two-day event (Oct 14-15) will see 18 men’s and six women’s teams competing in their respective divisions.
The sevens will feature teams from around the country, and will be a showcase of the nation’s best rugby sevens talent.
Joining the provincial teams will be the four regional winners of the Satellite Sevens series; they are Stallions of Rabaul (Dawapia 7s, Rabaul), Harlequins of Lae (Tulait 7s, Goroka), Inter Oil Turagus (Sarawaget 7s, Lae) and Harlequins of Port Moresby (Hetura 7s, POM).
Exposing players and coaches to a higher standard of rugby sevens competition is the goal of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union in partnership with major sponsor South Pacific Brewery.
Four regional sevens tournaments were held around the country with aim of providing regular high level competition for the smaller rugby centres.
PNGRFU development manager Sailosi Druma told The National that the concept was put together “to try and capture as many players as possible, by having the series in the four regions”.
“We were able to identify talented players and it also allowed us to do some training, especially for match officials before each tournament. So this was an avenue to deliver these courses,” Druma said.
“It’s been a long series and I’m glad it’s ending; hopefully we’ll see some great sevens action from the teams to finish off the season.”
The Fijian said that in the past, although sevens tournaments were held throughout the country, they were often held with months in-between competitions.
PNGRFU, with major sponsor SP, looked to close that gap by providing regular competitions.
“What we lacked in the past was regular high-level sevens competitions,” he said.
“We used to have just one NPC sevens tournament, then select a national team and travel overseas. But with this concept, the national coach will be able to assess the players over a series of tournaments.”
Druma noted that the winners of the Tulait 7s in Goroka, Harlequins of Lae, would not be fielding a team due to the fact that the majority of their players have been selected to play for the Morobe Hammerheads, their provincial team.
In the women’s competition, five of the six teams will be from the Capital Rugby Union competition, with the Autonomous Region of Bougainville being the only outside centre to send a women’s team.
A bonus for the tournament organisers will be the live broadcast of the competition over the two days.
“The broadcast on EMTV will give us more mileage in terms of exposure throughout the country.
“This will hopefully develop more interest in the game,” Druma said. The 18 men’s teams will be placed in six pools, while the women’s will be placed in two pools. Games start at 9am. Pools: Men – A: Morobe Hammerheads, Central, Oro Fuzzy Wuzzys; B: Black Orchids, Stallions, Alotau; C: Kimbe Rebels, Port Moresby Harlequins, Manus; D: Boromas, Unggai Bena, Export Invitational side; E: Madang Madgauns, Daru Stingrays, Baike; F: Goroka, Tabubil Cats, Gulf; Women – A: Spartans, Harlequins, Nova; B: Wanderers, Southern Chiefs, Black Orchids.