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Papua New Guinea national rugby league team

The Papua New Guinea national rugby league team represents Papua New Guinea in the sport of rugby league football.

Papua New Guinea
Badge of Papua New Guinea team
Team information
NicknameThe Kumuls
Governing bodyPNGRFL
Head coachMichael Marum
CaptainJames Segeyaro
Most capsPaul Aiton (16)
Stanley Gene
John Wilshere
Top try-scorersDavid Mead (9)
Menzie Yere
Top point-scorerJohn Wilshere (104)
Home stadiumNational Football Stadium
RLIF ranking10th
First colours
Team results
First game
 England 40–12 Papua New Guinea 
(Port Moresby, PNG; 6 July 1975)
Biggest win
 Papua New Guinea 64–0 United States 
(Port Moresby, PNG; 12 November 2017)
Biggest defeat
 Australia 82–0 Papua New Guinea 
(Townsville, Australia; 7 October 2000)
World Cup
Appearances7 (first time in 1985–1988)
Best resultQuarter-finals: 2000, 2017

In Papua New Guinea, Rugby League is a highly popular sport and is regarded as the country’s national sport. The national side are known as the Kumuls ("birds-of-paradise" in Tok Pisin).


Rugby league in Papua New Guinea was first played in the late forties; it was introduced to the nation by Australian soldiers stationed there during and after the Second World War. Papua New Guinea were admitted to the game’s International Federation in 1974. On 6 July 1975, at Lloyd Robson Oval, in Port Moresby the Kumuls played their first ever international. They were beaten 40-12 by England. The English team were en route to Australia and New Zealand to fulfil away fixtures during the 1975 World Cup.

They first entered the Rugby League World Cup for the 1985-89 competition, though it was not until 2000 that they won away from home. In 1987 The Kumuls stage their first full test playing tour of Britain, after playing BARLA opposition in 1979. They lost the test 42-0 at Central Park, Wigan.

On Tuesday 20 October 1987, Cumbria met Papua New Guinea before a crowd of 3,750 at the Recreation Ground, Whitehaven. Cumbria won 22-4. Four days later Papua New Guinea played a World Cup rated Test against Great Britain.

During the 1988 Great Britain Lions tour of Australasia a Test match was played at Port Moresby. Later that year Papua New Guinea played a World Cup match against Australia in Wagga Wagga, the Kangaroos recording a then international record winning margin of 62 points with a 70-8 win. Australian winger Michael O'Connor crossed for four tries and kicked seven goals for a personal points haul of 30, which could have been 44 had he not missed seven kicks at goal. In 1991 Papua New Guinea played host to a touring Great Britain, the series ended in a 1-1 draw.

On Sunday 27 October 1991, Papua New Guinea met Wales at Vetch Field, Swansea. Roared on by a fervent crowd of 11,422; Wales won by a record 68-0 margin, scoring thirteen tries. Papua New Guinea never recovered and lost all five matches in Britain, conceding 232 points in the process, and won only one of their four matches in France.

Papua New Guinea wound up their 1991 tour of Europe with a World Cup rated Test match against France, which was played on Sunday 24 November at the Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne. Despite Papua New Guinea leading 8-4 at half-time; France defeated their visitors 28-14.

The Kumuls hosted Australia for a two test series in October 1991 (won 2-0 by the Kangaroos), and also hosted Great Britain during the 1992 Lions tour of Australasia.

Papua New Guinea travelled to England to compete in the 1995 World Cup under coach Joe Tokam and captain Adrian Lam.[1] In their group was Tonga and New Zealand, against whom they failed to win a match.

In 1996 Bob Bennett, brother of the famous Wayne Bennett, was appointed the Kumuls' coach.[2] Also, in 1996, Adrian Lam captained the 'Papua New Guinea National Rugby League Team' against the Australian Kangaroos (52-6 win to Australia). Bob Bennett coached the 2000 World Cup Kumuls team to the qualification two the pool were the kumuls made it into the top 4 teams in the world so the 2000 World Cup Kumuls team was rated the best kumuls team.

They were granted automatic qualification to the 2008 World Cup but were placed in a pool with the top three teams, Australia, New Zealand and England, and failed to win a match in the tournament.

PNG automatically qualified for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup having reached the quarter finals of the previous Rugby League World Cup. The 2021 tournament will take place in England.

2010 controversyEdit

The Papua New Guinea team experienced huge difficulties leading to the 2010 Rugby League Four Nations Tournament, as politicians clashed for control over the game and the governing body, the PNGRFL, was split over issues concerning junior development, the national team and the Papua New Guinea NRL bid. This caused Adrian Lam to retire as head coach of the Kumuls in September 2010[3][4] while recently retired captain Stanley Gene, who had never coached a side before, was named his replacement.[5] The governing board were adamant that more Papua New Guinea-based players should be in the squad, and fewer Australia-based players should be picked. In early October the squad was announced for the tournament and consisted of 12 PNG-based players with captain Paul Aiton being the only NRL player.[6] Whilst the Australian team for the tournament was worth an estimated A$10 million, local newspapers calculated the Kumuls value at around A$670,000.

Despite the Australian media treating the defeat of the Papua New Guinean team as a mere formality, with the team having odds of 125-1 to win the tournament, the players and journalists at home were positive that the Kumuls could make a lasting impression in the tournament.[7] After their first up 42-0 defeat against Australia, the team's enthusiasm and crunching tackles were praised, but ball control and creativity let the team down hugely.[8] However the team faced much more criticism after their 76-12 thrashing suffered at the hands of New Zealand, with fans angry at the poor display from the players[9] and some questioning the credentials of new coach Stanley Gene.[10] Days after the match a broader look at the sport in the country occurred with one assessment concluding that rugby league was poorly managed[11] and former PNG great Marcus Bai called on clubs to supply a greater number of representative standard players especially from the New Guinea Islands region which had supplied five of this year's team.[12] The way politics had made its way into the governing of the sport was also condemned.[13]

2015 Pacific Rugby League TestEdit

In May 2015, Papua New Guinea took on Fiji in the 2015 Melanesian Cup at Cbus Super Stadium. The International was part of a triple header which also included the Polynesian Cup, between Samoa and Tonga, and the Junior Kangaroos against the Junior Kiwis. The Kumuls never really troubled the Fijians after handling errors and poor decisions led to the Bati easily winning the inaugural Melanesian Cup by 22-10.

2016 Pacific Rugby League TestEdit

In May 2016, Papua New Guinea took on Fiji in the 2016 Melanesian Cup at Pirtek Stadium. The International was part of a triple header which also included the Polynesian Cup, between Samoa and Tonga, and the Junior Kangaroos against the Junior Kiwis. In this year's test, the Kumuls had more experienced players and it paid off. Despite being in a similar situation with the half time score, they managed to make a miraculous comeback not many saw coming, to record their first win 24-22 on away shores since the 2000 World Cup.

2017 Pacific Rugby League TestEdit

The PNG Kumuls won their second consecutive Pacific Cup test victory with a 32-22 victory over the Cook Islands at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney, Australia.

2018 Pacific Rugby League TestEdit

The PNG Kumuls won their third consecutive Ox & Palm Pacific Cup test victory with a 26-14 victory over Fiji Bati at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney, Australia.[14]

2019 Pacific Rugby League TestEdit

The PNG Kumuls lost their first Ox & Palm Pacific Cup test match with a 24-6 loss to Toa Samoa at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, Australia.[14]


Notable playersEdit

Tournament historyEdit

World CupEdit

World Cup record
Year Round Position GP W L D
19541977 Did not participate
    1985–88 Fourth place 4/5 8 2 6 0
    1989–92 Fifth place 5/5 8 0 8 0
  1995 Group stage 6/10 2 0 1 1
   2000 Quarter-finals 6/16 4 3 1 0
  2008 Group stage 10/10 3 0 3 0
   2013 Group stage 13/14 3 0 3 0
    2017 Quarter-finals 5/14 4 3 1 0
  2021 Qualified
   2025 To be determined
Total 0 Titles 32 8 23 1

Tri-Nations / Four NationsEdit

Tri-Nations / Four Nations record
Year Round Position GP W L D
19992006 Did not participate
   2010 Fourth place 4/4 3 0 3 0
20112016 Did not participate
Total 0 Titles 1/9 3 0 3 0

Pacific CupEdit

Pacific Cup record
Year Round Position GP W L D
  1975 Runners-up 2/4 4 2 2 0
  1977 Third place 3/5 4 2 2 0
  1986 Did not participate
  1990 Group stage 5/8 3 1 2 0
  1992 Did not participate
  1997 Third place 3/6 4 2 2 0
  2004 Did not participate
  2009 Champions 1/5 2 2 0 0
Total 1 Title 5/12 6 4 2 0

Past resultsEdit

Official Men's Rankings as of July 2019
Rank Change* Team Pts%
1     Australia
2     England
3     New Zealand
4     Tonga
5     Fiji
6     France
7     Samoa
8     Scotland
9     Lebanon
10     Papua New Guinea
11     Wales
12     Ireland
13   1   Jamaica
14   1   Italy
15     United States
16   3   Greece
17   1   Malta
18   2   Norway
19   2   Serbia
20   2   Hungary
21     Canada
22     Philippines
23     Poland
24     Niue
25     Czech Republic
26     Netherlands
27     Solomon Islands
28   17   Cook Islands
29     Russia
30   2   Spain
31     Turkey
32   1   Vanuatu
33   1   Chile
34     Japan
35   5   Germany
36   1   South Africa
37   2   Ukraine
38   2   El Salvador
39   1   Hong Kong
40   2   Sweden
41     Colombia
42   3   Belgium
43     Argentina
44   2   Thailand
45   1   Brazil
46   1   Uruguay
47   2   Denmark
48   2   Bulgaria
*Change from December 2018
Country Matches Won Drawn Lost
  Australia 12 0 0 12
  Cook Islands 2 2 0 0
  England 4 0 0 4
  England A 2 1 0 1
  Fiji 8 6 0 2
  France 14 4 1 9
  Great Britain 8 1 0 7
  Ireland 1 1 0 0
  New Zealand 18 1 0 17
  Samoa 2 0 0 2
  South Africa 1 1 0 0
  Tonga 8 7 1 0
  United States 1 1 0 0
  Wales 4 1 0 3
Total 85 26 2 57

Other Papua New Guinean teamsEdit

Participated tournamentsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hadfield, Dave (1995-10-08). "Island gods high in a dream world". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  2. ^ Hadfield, David (1996-09-14). "Eagles to share United's roost". Independent, The. UK: Retrieved 2009-07-19.
  3. ^ Sydney Morning Herald - Adrian Lam Quits As PNG Coach
  4. ^ The Australian - Lam Quits As PNG Coach
  5. ^ Four Nations Official Website - Stanley Gene Returns As Kumuls Coach
  6. ^ Sydney Morning Herald - PNG Squad Announced
  7. ^ The National - PNG Out Of Their Depth?
  8. ^ The National - Kumuls Need More Work Before NRL
  9. ^ Facebook - Kumuls v Kiwis
  10. ^ The National - Disgraceful Display By Kumuls
  11. ^ The National - Rugby League Poorly Managed
  12. ^ The National - Marcus Bai Challenges Agmark Gurias
  13. ^ Weekend Post Courier - Politics In Rugby Archived 2008-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^

External linksEdit