The Northern Zone Championships held in Wau over the weekend were an outstanding success according to PNGRFL Interim CEO Brad Tassell who travelled to the region for the event:
â€œIt was an honour to visit Wau which is the birthplace of Rugby League in PNG over the weekend. The organization of the event was a credit to the Northern Zone committee, particularly Northern Zone PNGRFL Director Russ Kaupa who worked tirelessly with Wau & Lae Rugby League officials to prepare the venue. It was peaceful, without incident and there was some outstanding football played over the two days of the championships. There were big crowds preset on both days and the hospitality and behaviour of the people of Wau and the players was first class â€“ it repaid the faith the PNGRFL has put into playing the Zone Championships in regional areas and it was an absolute pleasure t see that PNG can hold successful Rugby League events in regional areas that are safe for families and all supporters to enjoy.â€
The Championships were made up of 8 teams including Lae City & Country, Madang, Tumerijah, Bulolo 1 & 2, Wau and Kainantu, with Lae Country taking out the final against Lae City with a try on full time and conversation after the siren to run out winners 10-8.
Madang was unlucky not to reach the final after being edged out on points for and against by Lae City, but had some outstanding performers over the two days and is certain to figure prominently in the Zone Squad. The final day also featured a schoolboyâ€™s exhibition match between Mariannhill and Wau Schools, which thrilled the local fans.
A final squad of 20 players to represent the Northern Zone at the National Championships in Lae from the 14th to the 16th September will be finalized by selectors and announced later in the week to represent the region. National Selector Steve Malum was also present to assist in the selection process.
Northern Zone PNGRFL Director Russ Kaupa said the PNGRFL are working hard to get the game back on track;
â€œThe PNGRFL is committed to taking the game back to the people and the recent Zone championships held in Kwikila (Southern) and Wau are an example of that. The PNGRFL has also contributed K25,000 to each zone to assist in the staging of their championships and are covering the entire cost of teams representing in the National Championships. This is something that from my memory has never happened before with the Governing body investing back into Rugby league regionally. It is a start and I can assure the nation that we are working hard behind the scenes to restructure the game and ensure it is managed professionally on a National basis. This is a new PNGRFL and it is very exciting times for Rugby League in PNG.â€