Sport: PNG Rugby delegation meets with World Rugby

12:08 pm on 22 May 2018

The interim board of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union has met with World Rugby and Oceania Rugby in an effort to revive the sport after years of political and legal battles.

In 2016 the PNG government and Rugby Union fell out over accusations of political interference.

World Rugby subsequently warned the then Sports Minister not to interfere in the running or decision making of rugby union in PNG.

A delegation of the court-appointed Interim Board of the PNGRFU, including Ben Frame, Michael Uiari and Syd Yates, met with World Rugby Council member and Oceania Rugby President Richard Sapias, and General Manager Oceania Rugby Bruce Cook, at Rugby Australia's Headquarters in Sydney last week.

Richard Sapias, Ben Frame, Syd Yates, Michael Uiari and Bruce Cook.

Richard Sapias, Ben Frame, Syd Yates, Michael Uiari and Bruce Cook. Photo: Oceania Rugby

Richard Sapias, a former PNG Rugby Union President, said the discussions were an important first step.

"The meeting was an appropriate way to initiate our working relations with the Interim Board and the outcomes we achieved demonstrated our joint effort for the betterment of the game in PNG," he said.

"We have commenced our planning to rebuild the game in PNG and we are moving forward with a player-centred approach in our solutions."

Delegation member Michael Uiari said the Interim Board were leaving the past behind now and have plotted a twelve month plan to take the union forward.

"Key milestones have been determined and we will be working very hard to achieve these both on time and on target," he said.

South Africa captain Philip Snyman fends off the Papua New Guinea defence during their opening pool match in Sydney.

Despite off-field conflicts, PNG's men's sevens team have qualified to compete at Sevens World Series events, the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens. Photo: KLC fotos/ World Rugby

An independent member of the Interim Board, Syd Yates, said the troubles of the past would not interfere in building a strong base for the future of the PNGRFU.

"The collegiality in the group resulted in quality decision-making and these high-level outcomes will guarantee success in our efforts and work," he said.

"We needed this meeting to ground us in our endeavours as a team," added Ben Frame.

"I am very confident about the road we are taking now, for the future of players and the game in PNG."

Rugby Services Manager in Oceania for World Rugby and General Manager Oceania Rugby Bruce Cook said the joint-meeting agreed to also implement a process to keep all key stakeholders informed of the plans and outcomes of the Interim Board as they plot the way forward.

PNG Palais captain Joanne Lagona takes on the Australian defence.

The PNG Palais women's team have also featured on the World Series this season and will compete at the World Cup. Photo: Oceania Rugby