Papua New Guinea have been granted co-hosting rights with Australia and New Zealand for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
In a first for the Pacific Island nation which boasts rugby league as its number one sport, PNG will host three pool matches in Port Moresby after the country’s government poured more than half a billion pounds into establishing state-of-the-art facilities, including three new stadiums and several hotels.
“We are excited about taking the Rugby League World Cup to one of the world’s most passionate rugby league nations,” 2017 World Cup chief executive Michael Brown said.
“Our agreement with the Papua New Guinea Government and the City of Port Moresby will see three pool matches played in Port Moresby involving their national team in front of their local fans.
“We welcome the support of prime minister Peter O’Neill and governor of the national capital district Powes Parkop and look forward to working with them to deliver a world-class event for the people of Papua New Guinea.”
The announcement, made at a press conference in Sydney, means the 28 matches will be played across three countries.
“Rugby league in Australia and New Zealand has never been in a better position with a record number of people playing, watching and attending matches across both countries,” Brown added.
“Our aim is to make this Rugby League World Cup the most accessible and fan friendly ever.
“We not only want to see traditional rugby league fans come out to support their national team, we aim to engage with the local communities of all participating teams to deliver an event that celebrates the diversity of cultures and countries playing the greatest game of all.”