Big year ahead for rugby

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PAPUA New Guinea Rugby Football Union have announced their 2010 calendar, a new vice-president and a women’s representative, on the eve of the new year.
The meeting was held at the Lamana Hotel conference room in Port Moresby last Thursday.
President Richard Sapias highlighted the union’s plans ahead of a big rugby year, which includes country’s return to Wellington 7s and Adelaide leg of the International Rugby Board circuit  early next month, the Commonwealth Games and the build-up for the Under 20s to the junior World rugby trophy in Moscow, Russia, in May.
“We are focused as an executive, in building proper pathways for our game and for our players, from the junior level, right through to the top level,” he said.
Sapias, whilst endorsing the 2010 event schedule, also endorsed the women’s rugby committee that the union had recognised and would work with to go forward.
The new committee announced included Defence Sallyanne Mokis, Wanderers’ Alice Dolla, Lydia Ora and Christine Wanmar for University, and Brothers’ Esther Nombri.
“There are a number of exciting plans in the pipeline for the development of women’s rugby, and the PNGRFU sees this as an integral part of their  development programmes for this year and beyond,” Sapias said.
High on the agenda for this year’s calendar was the announcement of former PNG Sevens captain Robert Nilkare as second vice-president, replacing Peter Tsiamalili, who stood down due to personal reasons.
“Nilkare brings with him a wealth of experience and a sound business mind with his background in the public sector. I look forward to working with him to raise PNGRFU to greater heights,” Sapias said.
Nilkare, having been away from the rugby scene since retiring from active participation, welcomed the challenge.
“I thank Sapias for having the confidence in me, it is good to come back and make a change. It is a good team now and encouraging with the women’s rugby now a part of the team, change is good,” Nilkare said.
Mokis also welcomed Rugby PNG’s support.
“It has been no secret about women’s rugby’s troubled times, but with the backing from the governing body, this will ensure our competition continues,” she said.
This year’s calendar includes the renamed regional championships Coca- Cola Super 5s (formerly Super 4s) which will now include the U20s as the fifth team, from March 31 to April 11, the Federation of Oceania Rugby Union (FORU) Cup in June  and a proposed rugby league-like PNG Origin match, which will involve resident players and internationals in September.
Also part of the year’s plans are coaching and refereeing courses in August and October and fundraising events through Corporate Golf and Bowls Days in March, July and September.