PNG National Rugby League Competition rolls out five-year plan

Photo: PNG Hunters/Facebook

The Papua New Guinea National Rugby League Competition (PNGNRLC) will introduce national competitions for women and Under-19s starting 2025 as part of its five-year strategic plan (2023-2027).

The plan, headed by PNG Rugby Football League’s high performance general manager Marc Portus, includes a junior pathway that captures children from ages 6-12 through modified format games.

Portus said during the launch at the Santos National Football Stadium yesterday that they plan to bring the Digicel ExxonMobil Cup on par with the Hostplus Cup in regard to the game’s standard and the running of the competition.

“Over the next five years all our resources will be put into our priority areas which are the four pillars.

“The four pillars are club professionalism, coaching and officiating, competition pathways and competition management,” Portus said.

“The Digicel ExxonMobil Cup women’s competition will come in in 2025 and the national competition for U19 boys in 2026 and the U19 girls in 2027.

“Coaching and officiating is about developing the expertise and the skills of our coaches, referees and match officials.

“Club professionalism is about the journey of the clubs themselves.

The PNGRFL will support these clubs and help them become more professional.

“It’s about turning these rugby league clubs into professional sports businesses.

“We want to turn PNGNRLC into a professional and well run competition that can make PNG Hunters a stronger team and PNG rugby league can be a force on the world stage.

“Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) is the benchmark and it’s supported by Queensland Rugby League and New South Wales Rugby League who run their own competitions.

“What we are trying to do is to get PNGNRLC to the second tier level and we will get a lot of support from QRL to do that.”

Portus said the plan would cover salary caps and talent equalisations systems such as the NRL.

Meanwhile, the National Gaming Control Board has signed a sponsorship agreement with the Ipatas Cup with the purpose to expose raw talents through the biggest off-season rugby league tournament in the country.

The signing of the agreement confirms NGCB’s commitment to uphold the pledge of K500, 000 (US$141,000) per annum for four years, made by the Minister responsible for NGCB Manasseh Makiba.

Makiba made the pledge last month at the Lae Rugby League Oval in Morobe Province during the 2022/2023 grand final between the Homeland Saints of Western Highlands and Morobe Prides.

During the agreement signing, Makiba stressed on the importance of sports and the positive social impact it brings to the livelihood of people.

“On behalf of the government and the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, and the NGCB, I am pleased to sign this Sponsorship Agreement that will pave the way forward for our youths to expose their raw talents in the off-season rugby league tournament.

“The NGCB is proud to support Ipatas Cup and we will be the naming rights sponsor to the competition – NGCB Ipatas Cup starting this year.

“Thus, the NGCB is proud to announce a sponsorship of K2 million (US$566,000), which will be paid in installments of K500, 000 per year for a sponsorship period of four (4) years.

“We are excited to support the Ipatas Cup because we have seen and witnessed the impact rugby league brings to the lives of people, especially our youths and athletes”, Minister Makiba said. The Ipatas Cup competition mainly targets the youths and the unemployed men in rural and suburban areas to get them into training and play rugby league so that their talents can be identified and the players can be selected by the Digicel Cup Franchises.