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Barefoot New Guineans showed ‘em how!

From the Pacific Island Monthly archives of 45 years ago, JIM HUXLEY reports on the forgotten ‘barefoot Test’

PIM Oct 1966 - the barefoot Test

THE YOUNGSTERS FROM Papua-New Guinea, playing rugby league barefoot, thrilled crowds in Brisbane, Sydney and NSW country centres, and the tour was such an overwhelming success that other territory schoolboy teams will be invited on similar visits.

The highlight of the recent tour came at the Sydney Cricket Ground when more than 62,000 spectators saw the New Guineans play a curtain raiser to the third and deciding Test match between Great Britain and Australia.

It was also the third and deciding Test between the under eight stone schoolboys from New Guinea and a team from NSW.

New Guinea won the game 13-5 and then Australia went on the complete a satisfying day for the Sydney fans with a convincing 19-14 victory over the British visitors.

The New Guineans lost only two of the 10 games they played in Australia – and the scoring was often something remarkable.  They crushed a combined Brisbane side 31-0.  At Tamworth they beat north-west NSW 21-8.  They accounted for a Newcastle combination 14-8. At Wollongong they won 13-5.  And at Forbes they thrashed the locals 19-0.

Everywhere they gave an outstanding display of clean, entertaining football, running and handling intelligently, kicking with good results and tackling round the legs in copybook manner.

The young New Guineans were selected after a series of trial matches in Port Moresby among teams from Goroka, Rabaul, Lae and Moresby.

Source: Pacific Islands Monthly, vol 37 no 10, October 1966


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Greg Wyeth

Had the pleasure of billeting Dorrigo Barrassi from the PNG side with our family for the Brisbane leg of this tour. A wonderful experience. So glad to see a recent video clip posted by the NRL of the game played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They were truly a unique side in that time.

Bruce Kerr

I was one of the second rowers that played in the Combined Brisbane side at Lang Park (now Suncorp) in 1966.

We were given a lesson that day in how to let the ball do the work. Playing in bare feet didn't help us.

It's a game I have never forgotten. Had two Papua New Guineans billeted with us, good blokes. It's a game I still remember even though it was over 60 years ago.

Raphael Vitaharo

Now that is just awesome. Just goes to show that we Papua New Guineans have a lot of raw talent.

Melva Dodi

Wow, I heard about this team when I was growing up as my uncle was one of the guys that played.

His name is Jackson Maoni Karuka from Kairuku in the Central Province.

Mathias Kin

Aiya moneya! This is cool! Great stuff.

The barefeet PNGians beat them all.

Forty-five years on and Australia is the strongest league playing nation in the world and PNG.

We are beaten by cricket scores and usually it is a PM's 13 team, a second rate Kangaroo team.

Thank you for that, and can we have more of these please.

Peter Smith

l was a member of the NSW Schoolboys Team that played against the PNGSchoolboys in three Tests (Newcastle, Merrylands and at the SCG) plus at Wollongong Show Ground against an Illawarra/South Coast team.

There is a mistake in the results Forbes lost 13-5 and Illawarra/SC were flogged 19-0.

I was at Bulli High School and played as hooker/front row.

Brings back many memories.

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