Cook Islands Rugby Union is concentrating on developing local talents after Covid-19 pandemic caused cancellations of international competitions.
Oceania Rugby this week cancelled the Oceania Rugby Men’s and Women’s Championship scheduled to take place in Fiji in November this year.
The regional body said this decision had been made in consultation with relevant government and international public health authority for the wellbeing of the regional rugby community and the wider public, as a top priority.
Cook Islands Rugby Union was planning to field both the men’s and women’s teams in this tournament.
Union president Simi Teiotu yesterday welcomed the decision from Oceania Rugby.
“We were expecting this. Given the current situation, it’s impossible to put a team together economically and also logistically because of travel restrictions and other issues,” Teiotu said.
“I don’t expect any international competitions this year and that’s why we have decided to focus on the domestic competition in a bid to improve the profile of the sport here.”
Oceania Rugby general manager Bruce Cook said the difficult, yet appropriate decision to cancel the annual Sevens tournament has to be made although quite unfortunate under the present circumstances, for the region.
“The Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship is the only competition that brings all Oceania member unions into one location from the World’s best team in the circuit, to the development unions which is truly unique,” Cook said.
“Whilst disappointed with the cancellation, we continue to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the health and wellbeing of players, officials and public in the Oceania region is prioritised above all.”
Oceania Rugby is in consultation with World Rugby to explore separate supplementary competition at regional levels in addition to Series events to ensure Olympic qualified teams and teams seeking qualification through the Olympic repechage series, will have appropriate amount of high-level competition opportunities.
Oceania Rugby competitions manager Wayne Schuster said: “There is strong desire within the region for supplementary competition concept, and Oceania Rugby in collaboration with member unions are putting all its efforts together to assist World Rugby explore opportunities for a safe and secure high impact return to action in Oceania.”
In Rarotonga, the domestic 15s competition has entered the finals. The Cook Islands Games Sevens tournament is next followed by another event which is being planned.
Simi Teiotu said: “We will have under-17 and open grade competitions in both the men’s and women’s divisions at the Cook Islands Games.”
“We are very pleased to see the turnout at the domestic 15s competition which is a result of the decision to hold all weekend games at one venue. This has also improved the competition level.”