History

In September 2011 a question was asked by former Newcastle Knights National Rugby League (NRL) player and International Rugby League enthusiast Mr Dane Campbell of why Rugby League wasn’t played in Vanuatu due to its popularity and long tradition of being played in other Melanesia countries and across the Pacific. From that one question a chain of events occurred in a short space of time that led to the formation of the Vanuatu Rugby League (VRL).

In December¬† 2011 an Australian based contingent led by Dane Campbell and accompanied by Mr Sandy Marango (a Ni-Vanuatu now residing in Australia) travelled to Port Vila to conduct a coaching session and trials to form a Vanuatu National 9′s team. Local players selected were Nelson Law, Jason Pakoasongi, Herbie Henderson and Kunro Kalo.

Also on this trip the interim Board of the VRL was formed:
President: Mr Tom Carlo
Vice President: Mr Rocky Tuku
Secretary: Ms Leinasei Simon
Treasurer: Mr David Thomas
Board Members: Mr Leonard Ngwero, Mr Alex Jonathan Raikatalau, Mr Paul Nalau, Mr Dane Campbell, Mr Sandy Marango and Mr Ben Howard.

In February 2012 the Vanuatu players flew to Australia to join Ni-Vanuatu players based in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to compete at the International 9′s tournament in Sydney. The trip was made possible thanks to sponsorship from Club Aqua, Street Strider Australia, Rugby League Player Protection, Body Science and J.P. Wood Building Services.

James Wood was selected as Vanuatu’s inaugural captain and the team (with their 9′s Cap number listed first) consisted of:
1. James Wood
2. Robert Congoo
3. Ben Henaway
4. Josh Henaway
5. Herbie Henderson
6. Kunro Kalo
7. Nelson Law
8. Apisai Loaloadravu
9. Samuela Loaloadravu
10. Joe Meninga
11. John Nash
12. Paul O’Neill
13. Jason Pakoasongi
14. Emosi Ugavule
15. Mewo Varasia

The tournament was a great success with pool game victories over Cook Islands and Portugal, resulting in Vanuatu finishing first in their pool and advancing to the quarter finals. Vanuatu defeated Cook Islands in the quarter finals, Fiji in the semi-finals before finishing runners up after a narrow defeat in the final to the Australian Indigenous team. From that humble beginning the VRL was born.