The National, Tuesday July 9th, 2013
DIGICEL Cup rugby league matches in Enga have been cancelled indefinitely.
PNG National Rugby League general manager Hubert Warupi said this was a direct result of the Sunday’s violence-marred Round 13 clash between the Enga Mioks and the Snax Lae Tigers at Aipus oval in Wabag.
Warupi said the PNGNRL was shocked and saddened by the violence which claimed two lives.
“We (PNGNRL) are saddened about the incident but can confirm that this was not fueled by players or the match directly but rather by spectators with tribal or political affililiations coming to a head,” Warupi said in a statement.
He said that in line with the competition organiser’s zero tolerance policy on violence all matches in Wabag have been cancelled until further notice.
He added that the home and away finals format will be reviewed.
Players and officials from both sides escaped unscathed by the fighting between rival fans that Tigers coach Stanley Tepend described as the worst he had ever seen.
The dead a local man (unnamed), who was hired help for the Tigers, and a male high school student, Lungipini Niyo, were the casualties in the worst violence the sport has seen since the 1996 SP Inter-City grand final between Mendi and Simbu.
“We are very concerned on the nature of how events transpired in particular the security aspects. Lives and assets have reportedly been lost and damaged,” Warupi said.
He stressed that the situation was beyond the control of PNGNRL.
Tepend said a lack of security at the venue did not help the situation.
He questioned why securities personnel allowed spectators who were armed with knives and axes in the first place and why the police did not engage directly with the violent crowd during the melee.
Tepend remained in Enga to attend the
Meanwhile, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas (pictured) said, although regrettable and tragic, the incident was an isolated act and was not a reflection of rugby league in the province.
He said the provincial administration and rugby league officials in the province had worked hard to host visiting teams in the Digicel Cup and Sunday’s violence was unfortunate and he accepted the PNGNRL decision to end matches in Wabag.
He called for an investigation into the incident and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. He said lives were lost and property damaged and passed his thoughts to those affected.