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Saturday 6 July 2024 | Written by Solomone Taukei | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Raro 15s defending champs Panthers take on Eels today
The 2024 season kicked off with a high-energy match yesterday between Arorangi and Titikaveka. Arorangi won 42-17. SOLOMONE TAUKEI / 24070536

Rarotonga 15s defending champions Tupapa Panthers will face Avatiu Nikao today at the Tupapa field, showcasing what could be a replay of last year’s thrilling finish when the Panthers dethroned the Eels.

However, the Eels coming off with a good result for the league season puts them in the hot seats and it will be interesting if they can continue in the same form, says Cook Island Rugby Union (CIRU) development manager Ben Koteka.

The 2024 season kicked off with a high-energy match yesterday, where Titikaveka faced off against Arorangi.

This encounter set the tone for what promises to be a season full of strong competition and spirited play as Arorangi won the first match 42-17.

At half time, the Arorangi lead 21-10 against the Bulldogs at Victoria Park, Tupapa.

CIRU has launched its 2024 season with a series of thrilling matches and robust development programs aimed at promoting the sport across the islands.

Koteka shared insights into the plans for this year's campaign, highlighting both the competitive and developmental aspects of the season.

“We continue to build on the Intervillage competition as our main competition while ensuring strategic development for the game,” Koteka stated. This commitment to development is not just about the current season but also about long-term preparations for major events like the Cook Island Games and the Oceania Rugby Tournament later in the year.

One of the key focuses of CIRU's development efforts is their partnership with schools in Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, and Mangaia. Koteka mentioned the hope to expand these initiatives into the Northern groups as well.

“Our focus through these developments is to help children and youths build a holistic development through the Pito Enua model,” he explained.

This model emphasises the importance of community and cultural values in fostering young talent.

Meanwhile, today’s matches include a special focus on young girls' development with the Maine Tueporo at the Tupapa field.

Fixtures: Junior development- U8/ U10/ U12 Boys and Girls -2pm.

U16 Possibles vs Probables – 3.30pm.

Premiers men Tupapa Panthers vs Avatiu Eels- 4pm.