This morning saw Papua New Guinea see off their Welsh opponents in each team’s opening Rugby League World Cup match in The Kumuls’ home country, Port Moresby playing host.
Wales were comfortably beaten in front of a sell out crowd as PNG’s fans brought their usual passion, colour and noise to the fore and provided quite the intimidating atmosphere, the sort that would make any visiting team sit up and take notice.
Perhaps the governing powers will have watched with interest; I did, and this idea came to my mind. Why not add Papua New Guinea into a competition with New Zealand, Australia and England in the Four Nations and play the competition there? One slight issue with rugby league is that there is rarely anything new or innovative brought in which, to a certain extent, affects the sport’s ability to gain new fans and to keep existing ones interested. Plus, nowhere in any of rugby league’s big three countries can boast the colour, passion and noise like in PNG – yes, the support is great but not as raucous.
In a country which doesn’t have much wealth or infrastructure, international rugby league could well be the highlight of many people’s years – what better way to provide this than the world’s best players descending on their stadiums for a tournament? It would definitely be different to playing in the smart, modern stadiums that play host to NRL and Super League matches in built up, cosmopolitan, bustling cities – it might just open many of the world’s best eyes and be one of the best atmospheres they will have played in.