THE Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union (PNGRFU) and Capital Rugby Union (CRU) paid tribute to All Black legend, the late Jonah Lomu, at Bava Park in Port Moresby on Wednesday in a joint ceremony with the New Zealand High Commission honouring the 40-year-old’s passing last week.
Capital rugby president Jacob Anga said they organised this event to pay tribute to Lomu, who exploded onto the scene at the 1995 World Cup Rugby in South Africa, and ushered in the professional era of the 15-man code.
New Zealand High Commissioner Tony Fautua acknowledged PNGRFU and CRU for organising the event to pay respect and honour the New Zealand and Pacific hero.
Anga said Lomu proved that even a Pacific Islander could become a global sports star and transcend boundaries in sport and life.
Fautua said the event could be the beginning of Jonah’s legacy to see the game of rugby grow and develop in PNG.
PNGRFU general manager Frank Genia said partnering with the New Zealand High Commission would help raise the level of the code in the country.
“This partnership paves the way for a future partnership with the high commission to move the code to the next level,” Genia said.
He said the partnership with the high commission would help them discuss ways to help develop the junior and women’s programmes.
PNG Sports Foundation chief executive officer Peter Tsiamili Jr, on the behalf of the Government and sports ministry, thanked the New Zealand High Commission for forging the relationship through Lomu’s death.
“We are grateful to High Commissioner Fautua and the mission for partnering with PNGRFU and CRU.
“This partnership is like a seed that we must look after and ensure it grows into something bigger and better,” Tsiamalili said.
Fautua said next Monday in New Zealand, a public memorial service would be held at Eden Park in Auckland to honour Lomu, who made a significant contribution to rugby union in New Zealand, the Pacific and world, and promoted humanitarian causes with organisations like UNICEF and charities like Kidney Kids NZ.
He said there would be a special Family Day event tomorrow to allow the Pacific community to pay their respects.
A private funeral will be held on Tuesday in New Zealand.
To signify the event, a condolence book was signed by those who attended to be given to Lomu’s family in New Zealand.
A Pukpuks jersey worn in the recent Oceania Championship in Auckland was presented to Fautua by Genia to be given to the Lomu’s family.