PNGRFL needs a 30-year leap

Briefs, Letters

RUGBY league in PNG has not developed for the last 30 years in the way the game is played in the NRL.
Just watching a bemobile Cup match on TV over the weekends, one can make comparisons to the way the game was played in the 1970s and 1980s in the NSWRL.
The similarities in the style of the players can be attributed to the emphasis on aggression and power with minimal ball movement.
That was the era when the NSWRL was also a semi-professional competition and players had a full time job during the day and turned up to training on the evenings, thus it was dubbed the “working man’s game”.
The game in Australia made a revolution in the late 1980s in the way the game was played because of a couple of important reasons.
Firstly, the administration decided to turn it into a professional sport and attracted big sponsors like Winfield, who had naming rights and the legalisation of the poker machines in clubs which all helped generate revenue for the clubs.
Clubs from Queensland like Broncos joined in and plans to bring the game to New Zealand were underway.
They went on an aggressive marketing plan to promote the code by bringing in a super star singer like Tina Turner to sing the catchy theme song Simply the Best.
The results were that rugby league grew at an unprecedented rate and viewers were attracted from all over, including the female population.
Clubs themselves revolutionised training and development to junior levels at an early age.
Game patterns were focused on skills, speed, endurance, structure and emphasis was placed on control of the ruck rather than hurting the opposition in offence and defence.
Thus, it saw a rise of a new breed of coaches like Tim Sheens and Wayne Bennet, who were in charge of the dominant Raiders and Broncos.
It comes as no surprise to see these two are still coaching in the cut-throat competition that it has become.
Other clubs followed suit and, consequently, the playing style of the competition evolved into what it has become today.
On the other hand, rugby league in PNG has not changed in the last 30 years and the PNGRFL administration has been content to let things go as they have always been.


Port Moresby