The PNGRFL Chairman’s Invitational 9s has the potential to become the most popular – even the biggest rugby league 9s competition in the Southern Hemisphere outside of the Auckland 9s.
The idea has started to take shape following the success of the conclusion of 2015 Chairman’s Super 9s in Lae this month.
The event played around the country over two months involved all affiliated leagues in the Southern, Highlands, New Guinea Islands and Northern confederates.
The main objective of the concept was to encourage pre-season competitions for affiliate leagues so that processes required to maintain their positions as members of the PNGRFL in the new year are reinforced.
Another aim is to encourage rugby league competitions run on adhoc basis throughout the country to eventually affiliate to the PNGRFL with sanctioned and properly run competitions.
“If centres which have rugby league competitions run on adhoc basis want to be included next time, the opportunity is right there for them, however, they have to affiliate to be eligible to participate,” said PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka.
Tsaka said that the shortened version of the game is a good platform on which to put in place proper processes and structures for potential leagues to become fully fledged affiliates of PNGRFL, running full 13s competitions.
The top two top finishers from each regional competition, sponsored by Digicel PNG, then qualified to join representative teams from the Digicel Cup and several invitational teams in a marquee event staged from March 14/15 in Lae.
That event, which attracted the sole overseas-based team Queensland Kokomos has now been viewed as a prestigious annual competition to be contested in the PNGRFL off- season.
“We can make this the most popular, even the biggest 9s event, outside of the Auckland 9s,” Tsaka said when receiving reports from joint event managers, Pacific Sports Marketing’s Hubert Warupi.
“This year was a trial, as we tested a couple of ideas, and we are very excited and optimistic that the concept can become bigger and better next year and beyond,” Tsaka added.
However, in PNG only affiliated leagues would participate in the regional qualifying rounds, which will guarantee them a pass to the PNG Chairman’s Invitational 9s.
He encouraged leagues to affiliate to the PNGRFL before April 30, which is the deadline for affiliation and registration.
PNGRFL development officers in collaboration with their respective confederates are being tasked to do this.