GREETINGS to our rugby league family and welcome to our 29th edition of “Fulltime Reserve” column for this year, in our favourite rugby league newspaper, The National.
It has been a few weeks since our last column and it is indeed a privilege to be back again this week to keep our rugby league family across Papua New Guinea informed on some of our recent developments.
We start with some updates on our end-of-year programmes and tournaments that have remained suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The PNG Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) board met last weekend and resolved to cancel all remaining 2021 programmes and defer the Telikom National Nines Championships for our Under-20, men’s and women’s divisions to early next year.
The PNGRFL calendar begins on Nov 1 and ends on Oct 31.
Whilst the news is disappointing for our affiliated member leagues, the approval by the board for championships will be welcome news for our members since our last one in 2018.
The championships are scheduled to kick off in the pre-season in late February for all our member leagues throughout the country in the U20, men’s and women’s divisions.
The championships will kick off with the respective provincial legs from Feb 25-27 to be followed by the four confederation championships to be held in Minj (Highlands), Lae (Northern), Kokopo (New Guinea Islands) and Port Moresby (Southern) from March 4-6.
The championships are scheduled to be held in Lae from March 11-13.
The men’s championship will include the four confederation teams and all the Digicel Cup franchises who will send a team to the tournament.
The championships will be used to identify and develop our elite nines players as we kick off the build-up to the Pacific Games and other international nines programmes.
The championships will also coincide with the eight PNGRFL annual general meeting which our board has scheduled for March 12.
All affiliated members for senior and school leagues that have complied with the ‘New Ireland Model’ will be invited. A notice for the meeting and other requirements will be announced later in the year.
We acknowledge the work of all our members associations and our PNGRFL programme boards and their managements for their outstanding work this year under extremely challenging circumstances to successfully deliver their different initiatives.
Whilst the 2021 season has ended and we start planning for next year, we ask all our rugby league family to remain vigilant and follow the ‘Niupela Pasin’ guidelines in our ongoing fight against the pandemic.
Until next week, may the grace, love and care of our Good Lord be with you.