College players in line for NZ team

Thursday August 17, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union

Two Cook Islanders are in line to represent Canterbury Country U18s, thanks to their rugby exploits at Rangiora High School in North Canterbury, New Zealand.


Prop forward Doom Ponini and winger Josh Motu are in their second and final year at RHS and have excelled in this year’s 1st XV competition, as the team finished seventh in the University of Canterbury Championship competition and will battle St Thomas of Canterbury in the plate play-offs.

Both boys were a part of an RHS squad that won an unprecedented four-games in a row earlier in the season, and coach of the team Glen Dunseath was happy to sing the praises of the talented duo.

“They bring to our rugby programme a mixture of physical presence, speed, ability, and fun – they play the game very hard, but always enjoy it – the smiles for team mates and tough opposition are always present, and they have earned the respect of everybody as a result,” Dunseath said.

“They are different in character – Doom is loud, always laughing and joking, full of life, and the centre of everything, whilst Josh is quiet, laid back, very cool, with a smile that is almost shy. However, underneath a very friendly and polite young man.

“They are both a pleasure to coach and be involved with.”

Ponini was also recently appointed the player of the day award after the team’s massive 39-6 win over Roncalli College,

He scored two tries and converted the second, and his award was extra-special as his mother and two aunties to watch this match.

Both boys were in the North Canterbury U18 side which recently won the McGiffert trophy vs Ellesmere 45-7, and have been included in the wider Canterbury Country U18 team which will be named early next week after final training on Sunday.

This year is the sixth year of the Cook Island Student Development Programme through rugby, a joint initiative between Rangiora High School and the Cook Island Rugby Union.

Established in 2012, the programme aims for selected students to spend their final school years at RHS.

During this time they are encourged to achieve academically with good attendance, effort, self-management and conduct.

Alongside their academic life, they are given the opportunity to be exposed to top school-age rugby coaching and training, the intention being for them to be involved in the prestigious Crusaders Region Secondary School’s UC Championship competition.

Ponini and Motu, who played for Avatiu, Tereora College and the Cook Islands Resident U16 team in 2015, both have home stays with local RHS rugby families.

The feedback from these families is highly positive, with the families enjoying learning about and experiencing the Cook Island culture whilst supporting the boys through the growth and development that comes with an opportunity like the CISDPR scholarship.

“To view them both as part of our school and rugby community has been something quite special – in a very short timeframe they have contributed significantly to many of our students lives, have achieved positive results for our rugby programme, and earned themselves the interest of representative selectors across the Canterbury region,” Dunseath said.

“Yet to their host families they have just been two very fine young men who have added significantly to the homes and families in which they have stayed.”

Ponini was also fortunate enough to travel to Auckland to attend the third and final All Blacks versus Lions test at Eden Park, and both boys have recently just been to the Year 13 formal.

Leave a comment