News from Vanuatu

By Various

Once again work has taken up all my time. Sorry for the long break, I hope that in the next week(s) I will be able to get more news and opinions back on the site. Lots has been happening. Various news from Vanuatu Rugby League.

Vanuatu Rugby League Boosts Economy

From Dane Campbell

The results are in – on and off the field Vanuatu Rugby League really are winners – with millions of vatu clocked up in Vanuatu’s historic Test Match vs Greece in October of last year. The match attracted hundreds of international and domestic travellers to Port Vila where the Vanuatu-Greece matched was opened by local sides Efate versus Santo. Vanuatu Team Manager, Mr Sandy Marango said that on and off the field, the match was a success for the sport and for Vanuatu.

“The game was an amazing advertisement for Vanuatu Rugby League but had terrific tourism and economic benefits for Vanuatu.”

“We had over 200 players and supporters come from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Greece for the game as well as s well as the hundreds that travelled within Vanuatu to attend the game including an entire team from Santo.”

“Many of the players and supporters stayed on to take in the amazing sights – from the volcano at Tanna to the waterfalls in Santo – rugby league diehards were able to appreciate many of Vanuatu’s finest attractions after the game.” Mr Marango also said it was incredible to see the uptake of social media.

“Through social media more than 10,000 people were shown photos of idealic locations across Vanuatu from Champagne Beach in Santo, to Mt.Yasur in Tanna and Mele Waterfalls right here in Port Vila – just from a couple of hundred people visiting.”

Dane and Sandy at Ifira

“We also had people from Honiara and Sydney to London and Athens liking our Vanuatu Rugby League Facebook updates!” Vanuatu along with Fiji and Cook Islands were the only other Pacific countries to play a Test Match in 2012, but Vanuatu was the only country to host in the Pacific. Vanuatu Rugby League President Tom Carlo commented “It was a very expensive exercise to play the match in Port Vila but something we felt was important for the development of the game and also to make a positive contribution to the economy of Vanuatu. We are passionate about Vanuatu Rugby League but we are also passionate about Vanuatu and if the two can grow together that is great.” “Thanks you to our sponsors who made it possible to have a Vanuatu – Greece showdown right here in Vila. To our Platinum Sponsor – Ford AutoDis, our Gold Sponsors – Law Partners, The Kava Emporium, 1990 Ventures (Nambawan Brewery and Jim Beam) and our Silver Sponsors – Club Aqua, RLPP and ATM National – we can’t express our thanks and appreciation enough – we couldn’t do it without you .” “I’d urge everyone to support those fantastic businesses that enable events like this to become a reality.” Plans are underway for another Test Match to be played in Vanuatu at the end of 2013. Luganville and Port Vila are being considered as the two options to host the match. Vanuatu Coach and former NRL player Mr Dane Campbell stated “We will be back. We’ll definitely be playing a Test Match in Vanuatu in October.” “Ideally would love to play one game in Luganville and one game in Port Vila. We’d welcome assistance to make this a reality as this is a high cost exercise and would welcome all parties to the table as to how to make this possible” Mr Campbell arrives in Vanuatu on the 29th January to have negotiations with officials in both Luganville and Port Vila regarding hosting in 2013 – a potential financial windfall for the respective island’s economy. Behind him is Sebastien Bador from Vanuatu Tourism. Mr Bador added “The Vanuatu Rugby League made a significant and positive impact to the economy of Vanuatu and was a great advertisement for Vanuatu Tourism.”
“Sports Tourism is a fast growing business in Vanuatu. Rugby League Test Matches is the latest in a long line of events including the Ocean Swims, Triathlons, Adventure Races and Round Island Relays that is contributing to bringing participants and spectators to Vanuatu.” “We received overwhelming positive feedback from those that travelled to Vanuatu for the game. Most have indicated they will return for next year’s game.”

“Bring on test matches in Vanuatu in 2013 – for the sport of Vanuatu Rugby League , for sport tourism and so we can continue to show everyone the gudfela laef moa kantri blong yumi.” To learn more about the Vanuatu Rugby League (including sponsorship opportunities or to become involved as a player, official or administrator) visit the website:, follow on Facebook or email

Vanuatu Stars Shine in the NRL

From Ben Howard, VRL

National Rugby League (NRL) and Ni’Vanuatu super star Justin O’Neill will play in the NRL All Stars team.

This Saturday (9 February 2013) in front of a sell-out crowd of over 50,000 and millions more viewers on TV, O’Neill will take on the Indigenous All-Stars team in Jersey Number 18 for the NRL All Stars.

O’Neill will replace Billy Slater as Melbourne Storm’s representative as Slater has withdrawn due to ankle and shoulder injuries.

“It’s disappointing Billy won’t be able to play, but it was really exciting to get the call from NRL All Stars Coach Mr Wayne Bennett,” O’Neill said.

“I’m so honoured to be part of the All Stars team and am looking forward to playing with and against some of the best players in the competition.”

Mr O’Neil added “I have family living in Brisbane so it will be very special to play my first representative game in front of them.”

The annual All-Stars clash began in 2010 and is seen as the unofficial opening of the Rugby League season. Both teams are selected by the fans, with one player from each NRL club joining the Australian and New Zealand captains – Cameron Smith and Benji Marshall in the NRL All Stars side.

O’Neill credits his mother, from Port Olry in Santo (a former Vanuatu track star and national athlete) as not only his inspiration but his source for fine tuning his now famous speed on field.

”When I was younger, mum coached me in athletics and she really pushed me and that approach … to push myself and to get the best out of myself … stayed with me,” O’Neill said.

”Her guidance has paid off. I did long jump and sprinting at school and I think that helped me in league to get up for the ball and to score tries.”

O’Neill has won a number of National titles in Long Jump, including at one stage holding the U/15 Australian record. He also starred on the track winning a number of medals at Queensland State titles over the 100m and 200m.

”I was pretty serious about my athletics,” he said.

”I remember winning my first gold at the nationals, I couldn’t believe it. I was over the moon, and the want to keep improving was always there. However, it reached the stage where footy wouldn’t help athletics and athletics wouldn’t help footy … I had to make a decision – and chose rugby league.”

“Athletics is very much a one-man band but football is about teams and working together and I enjoy that a lot more.”

Justin, Kunro, Sandy

The 21 year old debuted for the Melbourne Storm in 2010 and has gone on to play 42 games for the club. He was part of the 2011 side which won the Minor-Premiership and scored his 25th career try in Melbourne’s 14-4 Grand Final victory over Canterbury in 2012.

The late finish to the season and some injury concerns forced O’Neill to miss Vanuatu’s inaugural Test Match vs Greece in October last year. The match did feature his older brother Paul, who started on the wing and scored one of Vanuatu’s three tries in the 26-14 loss.

And what’s next for O’Neill? After the All Stars clash O’Neill will set off to England to play English Super League champions in the World Club Challenge final at Headingly for the Storm before he embarks on his 4th season in the NRL.

But what’s next for all our Vanuatu All Stars? This weekend is also a big on for the game in Vanuatu with Vanuatu born and raised emerging Rugby League talent Kunro Kalo. Kalo will play for the North Queensland Cowboys U/20’s National Youth team for his chance to secure a contract for the 2013 season. Kalo will be joined by O’Neill’s younger brother Samson for the Cowboys. The National Youth competition is seen as a stepping stone to the NRL, one which Justin came through himself winning the 2009 title with the Melbourne Storm.

The best place to catch the game and all the NRL action this year is at Vanuatu Rugby League’s proud sponsor The Brewery Bar and Restaurant where the match will be shown live from 7:30pm. Come along and support Justin O’Neill.


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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