Touch teams settle for bronze

Wednesday July 08, 2015 Written by Published in Touch Rugby
Beaming with pride, the Cook Islands women’s touch team and head coach Mark Brown are proud to have represented their country to the best of their ability and winning the bronze medal 11-2 in a playoff against Kiribati. Beaming with pride, the Cook Islands women’s touch team and head coach Mark Brown are proud to have represented their country to the best of their ability and winning the bronze medal 11-2 in a playoff against Kiribati.

Bronze at the Pacific Games was never an option for Cook Islands touch rugby players.

 

The men’s and women’s team had their hearts set on gold but winning the bronze medals of their respective tournaments brought just as much pride and joy.

Both sides fought valiantly through their tournament rounds to reach the semi final stages with their hopes still alive.

In the women’s division – it wasn’t that the Cooks opponents Samoa had any special advantage over the local side.

Instead, over-thinking and over-doing their game in a quest to snatch up the gold caused too many handling errors, and while it cost them the match – and the chance for silver or gold – the local ladies never stopped fighting until the final whistle.

The 4-3 loss to Samoa, which relegated the Cooks to the bronze medal playoff against Kiribati, was a hard reality for many of the players to take – And they wore the disappointment on their faces.

But when the whistle blew for the bronze playoff, maturity pulled the side out of the doldrums and the chance to take home the bronze refocused the team.

Kiribati gave the Cooks an early scare as the minnows of the sport came out firing with a huge desire to take the medal home to their islands.

But it was a determined Cooks team that ran away with the win 11-2 to earn the Pacific Games women’s their touch bronze medal.

“In the end at least we have won something and can take something home,” said one of the senior players still going through the emotions of accepting the bronze medal over a gold.

Samoa went on to play PNG in the final but a serious injury to a Samoan player saw the game finish on a low with the electric PNG side taking home the gold medal in front of an excited and extremely vocal home crowd.

In the men’s semi finals the Cook Islands men’s team also followed a similar path to find themselves in a playoff for the bronze medal after being defeated by Samoa 9-3.

The Cooks faced the Solomon Islands for the bronze medal playoff and were never going to let the chance slip.

Putting on a confident show the local lads put everything on the line to scoop up the bronze medal winning the match 14-8.

Youngsters BJ Heather and Cahjun Willis were lost for words about their bronze medal games experience.

For 18-year-old Heather, he said he was proud of his efforts and was keen to maintain the strong legacy his Heather family has in sports and in touch rugby. The young man follows in the footsteps of his touch rugby player mum Mairi Heather.

For 17-year-old Willis – the Pacific Games ride has been an eye-opener as he now turns his attention to preparing for the football domestic season back home. 

Despite the colour not being what they had hoped for, in their bright green tracksuits, the touch players stood proudly as the Cook Islands flag was hoisted in honour of the men’s and women’s team winning bronze for their families and country. 

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