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