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The 2021 Digicel Cup which was scheduled to start this Saturday May 29, 2021 following a postponement three weeks ago due to members of one of the Digicel Cup teams testing positive for Covid-19 after routine tests undertaken on players and officials will now kick off next Saturday June 5, 2021.

PNGNRLC Chairman Adrian Chow in a statement said following the PNGNRLC Board’s decision to defer the competition by three weeks on May 7, 2021, an urgent meeting with all Franchise Chairmen, CEOs and Managers was held on Sunday May 9, 2021 and agreed that for the 2021 competition to proceed, it was in the best interest of all to recommend that all players and staff be vaccinated.

“This decision was relayed to the Office of Pandemic Controller who gave conditional endorsement,” Chow said.

He said the first two weeks since May 10, 2021 saw Doctors Kapua Kapua, Gideon Kendino and Ivan Ravu Jnr conduct awareness sessions with all franchise players, staff and officials.

“Vaccination in the country is not compulsory and the three doctors discussed and consulted with the players and staff on any doubts they may have on being vaccinated so they as individuals could make an informed choice,” Chow said.

He said as of yesterday Wednesday May 26, 2021, nine franchise players and staff had undergone vaccinations while the rest were scheduled to get theirs today and tomorrow. “Match officials identified and nominated to officiate all Digicel Cup games will also get vaccinated,” he added.

Chow said all players, staff and officials that have been vaccinated are reminded to send their ‘green forms’ through to PNGNRLC Manager Ora Gairo asap to have them registered and be eligible to take part in this season’s Digicel Cup competition.

“We have taken this stance in order to lessen the risks of transmission to families, friends and the communities,” he said.

He said the delay by another week gives all concerned ample time to recover should there be any experiences of post vaccination effects and for all franchises to reconfirm and prepare their rosters.

“Kick off games on June 5, 2021 will be as per the Round 1 draws and venues with no crowds,” Chow said. “We will advise over the next week or so if there will be any changes made to the season draws.”

Chow extended the PNGNRLC Board’s gratitude to Deputy Pandemic Controller Dr Daoni Esorom and the Office of Controller, respective PHA management and staff, valued sponsors and partners of franchises and players, staff and officials for their understanding and efforts over the past three weeks.

“Thank you all and let’s look forward to getting our premier rugby league competition, the Digicel Cup kick off next Saturday June 5, 2021,” Chow said.