Under 20 tournament deferment disappoints

Thursday March 12, 2015 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Rarotonga-based under 20 players, pictured with representatives from sponsor Toa Gas were all smiles after securing support from the local business for their campaign. However, the campaign has now been left in limbo after organisers differed on the division two tournament they were preparing for next year. Rarotonga-based under 20 players, pictured with representatives from sponsor Toa Gas were all smiles after securing support from the local business for their campaign. However, the campaign has now been left in limbo after organisers differed on the division two tournament they were preparing for next year.

News that the 2015 Oceania Under 20 Division Two tournament has been postponed until next year has left the national rugby union body, local and overseas-based under 20 players and management bitterly disappointed.

Cook Islands Rugby Union was this week told that the tournament would now be staged next year due to issues in securing a host venue for the event.

The Cook Islands under 20 management team led by New Zealand-based head coach Mark Wells and assistant coach Walter Tangata in Rarotonga are extremely disappointed with the decision.

“We are bitterly disappointed with the decision given the effort and investment that has been made by players and supporters,” a management team spokesman said.   

Since his appointment, head coach Mark Wells and his hard-working team have been in training for the past four months with New Zealand-based players.

Those players with the potential to represent the Cook Islands in the under 20 division have already played three build-up matches and were scheduled to play a fourth warm up match this weekend. 

Rarotonga-based players have also been training three to four times a week at the gym as well as playing touch rugby for extra training.

“The Cook Islands Rugby Union is very disappointed with the decision to postpone the Under 20 tournament again after the earlier April deferment,” said CIRU chief executive officer Ben Koteka.

“We see the under 20 division as a seed bed for future Cook Islands teams.”

Postponing the tournament to next year also means that a number of players who were identified for the tournament this year will miss out, as they will no longer be eligible for the age grade. 

The Oceania Under 20 Rugby Championship is an international rugby union competition. 

The event is organised by the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU), which is the regional governing body for rugby in Oceania.

This event replaced Oceania's former age-grade competition, the Oceania Under 19 Rugby Championship. 

The tournament was expected to feature 10 national under 20 teams in two divisions.

The division one teams for the Oceania under 20 tournament include Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Samoa while the Cook Islands is in division two along with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Tonga. 

Cook Islands Rugby Union would like to acknowledge and thank the Cook Islands under 20 management team and those players and supporters who have been involved with preparations over the past four months.  

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