The date has not been set, but it is expected to take place in late November to early December, with Tonga likely to participate, and perhaps Fiji.
Fiji’s place in the tournament is currently undecided as they are competing in the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy competition in Uruguay in September.
The competition is made up of second tier nations such as Portugal and Chile, and should Fiji follow the footsteps of the 2016 winner, Samoa, they will compete in the championship tournament against the elite rugby nations.
Should they not qualify, they are expected to compete in the Cook Islands tournament.
CIRU president Moana Moeka’a said one of the reasons Oceania Rugby looked to the Cook Islands as a rugby destination was because of the country’s success in hosting the Tahitian test match earlier this month.
“We’ve shown that we can host a test match, and they seemed to be quite impressed. We know what we need to work on next time.”
One of the main issues that the CIRU had to overcome was the finances. Moeka’a says the squad is unlikely to be able to be filled with just local players, which would require additional expenses to bring players from New Zealand or Australia.
“At the moment we are waiting for reports on our overseas players, which is expected on the August 21, as one of the things that we learned from the Tahiti game was that we need to build up our database.
“If we just look in major cities like Auckland or Sydney, I’m sure that we’d find players, but we also need to look elsewhere, as there might be a great young player in a place like Invercargill, or Napier.”
Finances are also a reason as to why there is possibly only three teams competing, as travelling to a rugby tournament isn’t feasible for a place like the Solomon Islands.
“The reason most Oceania tournaments are held in Fiji is because there are direct flights there. For most countries to get here, they have to go through New Zealand or Australia.
“So if a team like Vanuatu were to come, a round trip would cost thousands of dollars just for one player. They’d be hugely out of pocket for a two-week event, which is pretty hard to justify.”
There is hope however, when comparing to how much Oceania 7’s invests in their Fiji tournament, he says.
“For them, that tournament is the flagship, so they pick up the tab. And 12 to13 teams are going.
“But for now, we’ll just see how things go with this tournament before looking to the future.