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The Rugby League International Federation has today announced that Port Moresby will kick off a long term commitment to Pacific nations Rugby League by hosting the exciting new Pacific Cup tournament in October this year.

Bringing together Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands, the Pacific Cup is a key legacy of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup that will give Pacific nations the opportunity to join league heavyweights Australia, England and New Zealand in future Four Nations events.

The tournament – proposed to be held on a bi-annual basis – will also provide on-going competition for each Pacific nation as they prepare for future World Cup bids.

It was Papua New Guinea’s outstanding form in the 2008 World Cup and the country’s overwhelming support of Rugby League that helped them secure the right to host the new Pacific Cup tournament.

Chairman of the International Federation, Mr Colin Love AM said that the performance of the Pacific nations in last year’s World Cup had been an inspiration to Rugby League fans:

“The passion shown by the players in representing their countries and the support that was demonstrated for Rugby League in each nation underlined the enthusiasm that exists for Rugby League in the Pacific and the opportunities that lie ahead,” Mr Love said.

“The RLIF has committed to developing a calendar that allows players to represent their nations on a regular basis and our work with the PNG Government in staging this year’s Pacific Cup has seen the foundation stone of that commitment put in place.

“Given the fanatical support that exists for Rugby League in New Guinea, it is particularly rewarding to see Port Moresby host a prestigious international event such as the Pacific Cup and I want to personally thank the PNG Government for its support.

“Papua New Guinea has made no secret of its wish to expand the country’s Rugby League horizons even further and I am sure that the hosting of the Pacific Cup will bring widespread recognition of PNG’s strengths in staging sporting events.”

The Pacific Cup draw was officially announced at halftime of today’s Papua New Guinea versus Fiji Residents Test match at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.

Tonga, Fiji and PNG already have their place in the draw confirmed while Samoa and the Cook Islands will stage a Pacific Cup qualifying match in Cairns on Saturday October 17 to determine the remaining position.

The four Pacific Cup matches will be held at Lloyd Robson Oval over the weekends of October 24-25 and October 31, with the final to be played on Sunday 1 November.

The Pacific Cup draw is structured according to World Cup rankings, meaning top-ranked Pacific nation Fiji will take on the qualifier (Samoa or Cook Islands) to kick off the tournament on Saturday 24 October.

Host nation and second-ranked Pacific nation PNG will then face off against Tonga on Sunday 25 October, before the winners of both matches meet the following weekend in the final.

Underlining the importance of the tournament is the appointment of one of Rugby League’s most respected administrators, Brian Canavan, who has been assigned the role of tournament director by the Rugby League International Federation.

“The Pacific Cup will provide an opportunity for PNG to show the world how passionate they are about the game as well as demonstrating that this is a nation which can stage international matches which feature leading NRL players,” Mr Canavan said today.

“For the players, the Pacific Cup represents an important opportunity to display their cultural heritage as they not only challenge for the right to be champions of the Pacific but for the chance to compete against Australia, England and New Zealand.

“It is a hugely exciting time and there is a real commitment to not only building a lasting legacy for Rugby League in this region but also making a broader impact on the community.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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