By SAMPSON BONAI
IT was after midday on Tuesday this week when shouts of excitement rose up to the mountains and hilltops of Wau as people clapped and cheered. The prestigious Rugby League World Cup Trophy, now called the Paul Barriere Trophy, was finally arriving at the birthplace of Rugby League in PNG.
The historic silverware had arrived at Bulolo airport some minutes earlier on a helicopter chartered by Harmony Gold. As soon as the aircraft touched down, the trophy was received by Bulolo DDA chief executive officer Tai Guambelek and Wau/Bulolo Urban LLG town mayor Sogga Gaunina.
The people of Wau turned up in numbers as early as 8am to welcome the Cup to the historical mining town and to take part in planned activities.
After a short ride to the rugby league oval, the Paul Barriere Trophy was lifted from the decorated vehicle and hoisted up in the air for everyone to see, before it was handed over to two former Wau rugby league legends, Len Aldan and Tep Sie, to take to the grandstand at Wau Sports Oval. The people who had waited all morning erupted in a roar of jubilation when it was placed on a specially decorated table. That marked the start of the official programme.
Wau Primary School children and the teachers led by headteacher and MC of the ceremony,Mathew Humango, took charge of the formalities of flag raising to singing the national anthem and reciting the national pledge.
Following that, a locally composed Rugby League World Cup song was sung and an opening prayer by Foursquare Church Senior Pastor Mambu Kawi ensued.
The guests introduced to the excited people included Oil Search stakeholders engagement general manager Leon Buskens, World Cup Tour manager Ruth Waram, Harmony Gold Country Manager Kepas Wali, Hidden Valley CA Manager Benjamin Kamaya, PNGForest Products senior manager Kevin Faunt and Northern Confederation rugby league chairman Russ Kaupa. Other local leaders including the Deputy town mayor Norm Baupu and Bulolo DDA chief executive officer Tae Guambelek were also present.
The Cup brought light and hope for the restoration of Wau to its former glory days as a thriving economic hub of Bulolo, Morobe and PNG.
The place is once again thriving with the opening of a large, modern supermarket. A local agriculture company called Virus New Guinea Ltd has purchased agriculture land to venture into growing grapes and also build a new coffee packaging factory to make coffee products.
Harmony Gold has opened an exploration office in Wau and has commenced its drilling program at the old abandoned New Guinea Goldfields mining area in the Upper Ridges at Nami.
Soon, the excitement of the day came to an end as the trophy was loaded back onto the vehicle and taken back to the airport where it would be airlifted back to Lae.
The Paul Barriere Trophy’s 30-day tour of, what some have labeled as rugby-mad, PNG will end mid next month.
Origin of Paul Barriere Cup
The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) has announced that the trophy awarded to the men’s World Cup Winners has been named ‘The Paul Barriere Trophy’.
Paul Barriere was President of the Federation de Rugby a XIII from 1947 to 1955 having been made Vice-President in September 1944.
He was the driving force behind the agreement to create the International Rugby League Board and to introduce the Rugby World Cup, which was first played for in France during 1954.
Under Paul Barriere, the French national team completed its first tour to the southern hemisphere and in 2008, Barriere was posthumously awarded the inaugural RLIF Spirit of Rugby League Award.
“Paul Barriere was a visionary leader in our sport who was a dedicated internationalist. His legacy in introducing a World Cup to our sport could not be marked in a more appropriate way than by naming the trophy in his honour,”said RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood.
“The RLIF is most grateful to the Barriere family for agreeing to name the trophy in Paul’s honour. The Paul Barriere Trophy will be first awarded at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup to be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.”– Source: sportsmax.tv