Though rugby league is a very English sport, and even more than that it is specifically considered to be a northern sport, it has the strange quality of being the national sport of Papua New Guinea. The people of Papua New Guinea are known for being fervent supporters of the game all around the world.
The game was introduced to the country back in the gold rush of the 1930’s. During this period, Australians were coming to Papua New Guinea to mine gold and with them they brought the popular game of rugby league and it has been in the country ever since. 1949 saw the foundation of the country’s very own rugby league federation, quite a feet for such a haphazard and disorganized country.
The sport has proved to be very useful in Papua New Guinea. The country is divided into many tribal fractions and thus there is a great deal of social division in the country. The sport has been an incredibly useful tool in assisting to heal these fractures in social cohesion. Every school in the country has a team which takes part in the league and thus it is very common for most young people to plat the game. It is in fact, the most played sport in the country, while in most other countries the most popular sport is football.
Kumuls is the nickname of the hugely popular national team – they are named after a bird of paradise. They have participated in the rugby world cup since 1985 and they regularly play Australia in friendly games. The reason for this is their proximity to Australia compared to other countries with national teams such as the UK and France.
2015 saw a wonderful moment for the country. In 2017 Papua New Guinea will co-host the rugby league world cup along with Australia and New Zealand.