Rugby team calls for support

Thursday June 21, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Members from the Cook Islands national rugby squad training at Victoria Park this week. The team is preparing for the Rugby World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong later this month. Members from the Cook Islands national rugby squad training at Victoria Park this week. The team is preparing for the Rugby World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong later this month.

Cook Islands head coach Stan Wright is calling on Cook Islanders to get behind the national rugby team as they eye a historic qualification to the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

The team will take on Hong Kong in a two-match series, which starts with the opener at the BCI Stadium in Nikao on June 30.

Wright said the opening match of the series was important for the team, as a win would put them in the driving seat for the historic feat.

The winner of this series will qualify for the repechage tournament which will determine the team to play in the RWC 2019.

The repechage winner will be grouped in Pool B alongside defending champion New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the African continent winner.

“I just hope the people get behind the boys and show their support. It doesn’t matter what sport you belong to, we are representing the nation and we expect good support from our people,” Wright said.

“For some of these guys in the team, this will be their first test match. A lot of them are coming from professional outfits but this will be their first time playing for their country.

“It will be a special occasion for them and getting that support from the public will make it extra special.”

Yesterday, the Cook Islands Rugby Union launched tickets for the match on June 30 at the Bluesky trailer, opposition Palace Takeaway in Avatiu.

Stand tickets are selling at $15 pre-sale and $20 at the door, while general admission to the match is $10.

Meanwhile, players continue to work hard under the guidance of the national coaching management led by Wright.

The players underwent another intensive training session yesterday before helping CIRU officials run the Bluesky U13 Tens Tournament at Raemaru Park.

The players adopted teams taking part in the primary school competition and spent some time coaching them before their matches.

Each member of the training squad of 35 to 40 players will be battling for a spot in the final 23-member squad at the trials this Saturday.

Wright said they were focusing on getting the team in order before looking into the weaknesses of their opponent.

“Hong Kong obviously play well and they do the basics well, but we’re just working on ourselves.

“Then, in the latter part of next week, we can start focusing on how we can nullify their threats. But we have to get ourselves right first.”

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