QRL sanctions Mackay Cutters after team refuses to face PNG Hunters in Port Moresby
A Queensland rugby league club may be kicked out of all statewide competitions after a decision not to play in Papua New Guinea on Saturday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises people not to travel to PNG for non-essential reasons
Queensland Rugby League says it approved the Hunters-Cutters match after completing a risk assessment
The Cutters club will have to show cause as to why it should be involved in competitions next year
The PNG Hunters have been part of the Queensland Cup since 2014, but the club has not played at home in Port Moresby since 2019.
That is due to security concerns amid ongoing civil unrest and high rates of COVID-19 and foot and mouth disease.
Earlier this month, Queensland Rugby League (QRL) said it would not allow teams from Townsville and Burleigh to travel to PNG.
“Based on this advice and the need to ensure the health and safety of all teams and club personnel remains a priority, the board has not approved travel to PNG this weekend,” it said.
But in a following statement the league said an extensive risk assessment had been done and approval granted for a game between the Hunters and Cutters to proceed after a request from the Hunters to play at home again.
The Mackay Cutters would be the first team to play in PNG in about three years.
The ABC has asked the QRL why it believes it is now safe to travel, but has not received a response.
Travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says people should reconsider all non-essential travel to the country.
Suspension a bitter blow
In a statement the QRL said it had issued the Cutters with a notice of intention to terminate their participation agreement.
“The QRL considers the Cutters’ decision not to travel to Port Moresby as a breach of the participation agreement,” the league said.
“If the Cutters are unable to remedy the breach of the participation agreement they will suspended from all statewide competitions.”
The club has been asked to respond to the allegation of a breach and will have to show cause as to why it should be involved in next year’s competitions.
The immediate suspension from all competitions will be a cruel blow for the club’s under-21s side.
The Cutters are eighth in the Colts competition and a strong chance of making the finals.
But that could be taken away from them following today’s decision.
The ABC has contacted the QRL and the Mackay Cutters for comment.