Greetings to all our rugby league family and welcome to our sixth edition of Fulltime Reserve for this year in our favourite rugby league newspaper, The National.
Last week, the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) announced the deferral of all PNGRFL-sanctioned 2021 programmes and competitions by four weeks in response to the rise in the prevalence and transmission of Covid-19 in PNG.
PNGRFL is working closely with the National Pandemic Control Centre and the PNG Sports Foundation to monitor developments and ensure that we can kick off our rugby league season under a safe environment for all stakeholders.
The experience of delivering the 2020 season safely is giving us confidence that we will get to start our 2021 season soon.
The work done to produce and implement the ‘Banis Protocols’ provides us with a successful blueprint to safely run all rugby league programmes within public health and safety guidelines.
A key objective for PNGRFL this year, apart from our domestic competitions and tournaments, is the participation of the PNG Kumuls and Orchids in the Rugby League World Cup in England.
The event has now been confirmed by the hosts, England, with tremendous support of the British government and International Rugby League board, and it is important that our elite men and women are prepared.
The Kumuls are ranked sixth whilst the Orchids are ranked fourth in the world. Their preparations, including lead-up internationals, are important in their build-up to the World Cup for them to improve on their performance and international rankings.
It is exciting to see the return of crowds to National Rugby League games.
Australia and New Zealand are now discussing the possibility of a trans-Tasman “bubble” for travel between countries that could be extended to other Pacific nations soon.
Whilst this is an encouraging development for regional and global sports, our domestic and international programmes will depend a lot on how we – as a country – are able to contain the spread of Covid-19.
In preparation for our 2021 season, in the next two weeks, PNGRFL will be announcing:
- The revised domestic and international season calendar;
- The new programme boards for PNGRFL;
- The Kumuls and Orchids’ World Cup plans;
- The confirmation of the 2021 Digicel Cup calendar and programme;
- The confirmation of 2021 PNGRFL affiliate member associations;
- The confirmation and establishment of four confederate boards; and,
- The confirmation and establishment of the respective provincial boards.
These key announcements will herald the start of the 2021 season and formalise the establishment of the governance framework for the sport under the “New Ireland Model” for the 2021 season and the future.
In the meantime, we call for vigilance from our rugby league family and to work together with our authorities and frontline workers in our efforts to fight Covid-19.
Until next week, may the grace, love and care of our Good Lord be with you.