PNG make history in Red Square

(IRB.COM) Monday 24 May 2010
By Chris Thau
From Moscow
 PNG make history in Red Square
The Dagestan youngsters were "over the moon" to play against Papua New Guinea's Under 20 side

Papua New Guinea may be yet to taste victory in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2010, but over the weekend their Under 20s became the first ever international rugby team to play in Moscow's famous Red Square as part of the tournament's legacy programme.

The arrival of the Papua New Guinea team, who will play their final Pool A match against Romania on Wednesday, was greeted with huge cheers from the crowd and the players soon got involved with a touch rugby match against some of the local youngsters.

The players held a number of open sessions with spectators and played in a tournament of touch rugby with teams drawn from the junior Moscow selections. The arrival of a mini rugby team from Dagestan, in the Asian part of Russia, added to the occasion.

"This was a tremendous day for our youngsters and the kids from Dagestan were over the moon," explained Valdislav Tyurin, the Rugby Union of Russia Development Manager. "We are so grateful to the PNG team for making the occasion so much fun.

Robin Tarere, the Papua New Guinea coach, added: "This was a truly remarkable day for our boys, who experienced the warm welcome of the Russian rugby people. It was great fun for all of us and we are quite proud to have been the first international side to play rugby in the Red Square."

This is the second year in a row that rugby features in this multi-sport festival, held in the centre of Moscow as part of the Rugby Union of Russia's drive to promote the sport to a wider audience. Last year the RUR launched a tournament of five-a-side rugby, played along the rules of Beach rugby, with six teams from Moscow clubs taking part.