Monthly Archives: December 2015

VRL finishes on a high


After a season where nothing went right for the Vanuatu Rugby League (VRL) it all came together with a thrilling finish to the year. It took two attempts but the annual Port Vila Fire Ants vs Santo Boars finally took place recently (12th December) in Port Vila in a highly entertaining fixture in front of a vocal crowd.

After cancelled flights left the Port Vila team stranded just two weeks earlier, cancelling the first scheduled fixture, this time it was Santo heading to Port Vila to play in the 4th annual and first stand-alone fixture between these two great rivals. Santo were looking to end Port Vila’s three year domination, while Port Vila was looking to remain unbeaten in the contests.

The Fire Ants flew out of the blocks with a try in the 4th minute to Anro Kalpukai and conversion by Dominique Sablan to lead 6 – 0. The next 30 minutes were dominated by the Boars who raced to a 16-6 lead at the 38th minute mark with tries to Lester Kalpukai (9th minute), David Sablan (20th minute) and Waute Chicharau (34th minute) with Waute Chicharua successful with two of the three conversions.

The Boars were denied a deserved half-time lead with late tries to Dominique Sablan (38th minute) and a try right on half-time to Allan Avia (40th minute) with Alickson Napakaurana successful with one conversion to have the scores level at 16 all.

The Fire Ants started where they left off with their 3rd try in 5 minutes when Dominque Sablan crossed for his second try in the 41st minute. The arm wrestle continued and despite the best efforts of the Boars, they were unable to cross again against a more composed Fire Ants in the second half. Test players Sweeny Sablan (54th minute) and Dave Lolo (80th minute) crossed for further tries while Vanuatu’s youngest Test player Julian Wells added the sole conversion of the second half for the Fire Ants to run out 30-16 victors.

In the curtain raiser Ifira BB RL defeated Pango GB RL 62-0.

VRL President Tom Carlo was impressed with the fixture “It took a lot of effort to get the game up but it just shows you the determination of those involved with Rugby League in Vanuatu, especially those involved with the Boars and Fire Ants to ensure Rugby League has a successful future.

“This game was the catalyst to launch two rugby league competitions in Port Vila and Santo in 2016 but also continue to introduce the game in new markets such as we did in Tanna through our relationship with the New Zealand Police earlier this year.

“This year has also taught us a lot and we’re looking to finalise our new Strategic Plan to take us through to the 2019 Pacific Games with our end goal to not only represent Vanuatu but bring home a medal.”

The VRL has also been in talks with a number of nations about returning to Test football in 2016. This match was seen as the first of a number of selection fixtures leading into 2016 where the VRL are looking to pay a number of games. A number of players impressed the national selectors with Lester Kalpukai and Ian Willie Vuti voted the stand outs for Santo, while Dominque Sablan, Max Taleo, Dave Lolo and Allan Avia were voted Port Vila’s best.

Port Vila Fire Ants 30 (Dominque Sablan – 2, Anro Kalpukai, Allan Avia, Sweeny Sablan and Dave Lolo tries, Dominque Sablan, Alickson Napakaurana and Julian Wells conversion) defeated Santo Boars (Lester Kalpukai, Davido Sablan and Waute Chicharua tries and Waute Chicharau – 2 conversions).

Curtain-RaiserDominque Sablan

Rescheduled Port Vila-Santo game full of greater meaning

The Port Vila Fire Ants and Santo Boars are playing for much more than pride on Saturday December 12; they are playing to secure the future of rugby league in Vanuatu.

The Fire Ants will host the Boars in the capital Port Vila this Saturday seeking a fourth consecutive win over the Boars but more importantly to take up a rare opportunity to play the game that they love. This match has been rescheduled after the Fire Ants were left stranded in Port Vila after several cancelled flights meant the team was unable to travel to Espiritu-Santo for the planned fixture in November.

The fourth meeting between the two representative teams could not have come at a more important time as the after-effects of Cyclone Pam and exclusion of the Vanuatu Rugby League team from the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea has made it next to impossible for any rugby league to be played on the Pacific island in 2015.

In recent years the Vanuatu national team have played matches against the Solomon Islands, Niue, Greece and the Philippines but no international opposition could be found in 2015, making the annual Port Vila-Santo clash one of critical importance.

“It has been a struggle but we’ve managed to get the game to go ahead on the 12th which we see as the re-launch of sorts of the game in Vanuatu,” said Vanuatu Rugby League president Mr Tom Carlo.

“If the game had not gone ahead we had grave concerns for the future of the game at a domestic level and full credit must go to both the Fire Ants and Boars who have ensured this fixture happened despite the many setbacks.

“By not being able to participate in the Pacific Games this year we lost a lot of the momentum we had built up in recent years so it was imperative for the continued development of rugby league in Vanuatu that this game went ahead.

“It hasn’t been easy and it has taken a great deal of dedication from both players and officials but we’re delighted that on Saturday we will once again see the Fire Ants and Boars do battle.”

Santo played an exhibition game in November when the Port Vila team couldn’t travel and both squads have continued to train despite doubts over whether the match would go ahead

“Considering they have had very few opportunities to play this year the dedication of the boys from both teams to keep training and developing their skills has been tremendous,” said Brett Wright, strength and conditioning coach for the Vanuatu national team.

“Given the efforts they have made this year to not have staged this game would have been devastating but now we can look forward to a quality contest between two teams who simply love their rugby league.”

Not yet a full member of the Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation, Mr Carlo said that Vanuatu Rugby League will do everything it can to make sure the national team is once again given the opportunity to represent Vanuatu in 2016.

“We have been heartened by the progress of the likes of Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands since the 2013 World Cup and we are determined to also represent the Pacific in international rugby league,” Mr Carlo said.

“There is no question this has been a difficult year but we have the players and the passion to move the game forward.

“On the back of Saturday’s game between Port Vila and Santo we are confident that Vanuatu Rugby League will emerge bigger and better in 2016.”

Match Details:

Date: Saturday December 12th, 2015

Venue: Stade de Municipal

Curtain-Raiser: 1pm (Pango Rugby League vs Ifira Rugby League

Main Game: 3pm (Port Vila Fire Ants vs Santo Boars)

Entry: 300 Vatu (100 Vatu for students and free entry for U/12’s)