HOW many times has violence in one form or another reared its ugly and undignified head in PNG rugby league this year?
Probably more times than the PNG Rugby League board cares to admit.
In the bemobile Cup, the SBS Muruks were almost banned from the Lae RFL ground after a spectator riot that was apparently sparked by on-field violence.
The Toyota Enga Mioks and their backers did nothing for their public relations when a play-off loss to the Bintangor Lahanis ended in a clubhouse fracas between Mioks and Lahanis fans.
There are other instances in the bemobile Cup of shameful behoviour by players and fans. Added to these well publicised incidents are the other occurrences that took place this year in local leagues and competitions across the country.
Rugby league fans and followers and those who would like to be but are turned off by the culture of violence surrounding the game will be disheartened to hear that a current Kumul was involved in an unsavoury incident which could cast a shadow on the Pacific Cup.
The player allegedly assaulted noted rugby league personality and former Kumul, Richard Wagambie, at a function in Port Moresby on Sunday evening. It was, apparently, an unprovoked attack, and the incident will test the Kumuls management’s seriousness in addressing such negativity in the code.
While both parties have since reconciled, the incident itself bemoans a lax attitude toward all forms of violence in rugby league. To date, no disciplinary action of note has ever been taken.
The recently held Prime Minister’s XIII challenge had “Stop violence against referees” as one of its major themes, and this latest episode does no one any favours.
Rugby league should not be about sponsors or getting mileage from the game itself at the expense of its values and character. It’s about the players and the fans. Without them we would not have a game.
At a time when PNG rugby league is striving to set itself up for a leap into Australia’s NRL competition, this is one of the areas that needs to be cleaned up.
Superstar Greg Inglis was recently stood down for several weeks by the Melbourne Storm management for a domestic incident, and violence in general is treated seriously by the NRL.
If we are serious about our NRL aspirations, we should do likewise here in PNG.