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Raro trio join Cook Islands Sevens teams

Tuesday 15 November 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby Union, Sports

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Raro trio join Cook Islands Sevens teams
Rima Browne, left, Brian Akava and Nicol Tiaore are the Rarotonga-based players who will feature for the Cook Islands in this weekend’s Oceania 7s tournament. The three are pictured at Rarotonga International Airport before leaving for Auckland on Sunday. SUPPLIED/22111412

Three Rarotonga-based players will join the Cook Islands 7s men’s and women’s teams for this weekend’s 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge in Brisbane, Australia.

Rima Browne, Nicol Tiaore and Brian Akava left Rarotonga on Sunday for the two-day tournament starting on Friday (Cook Islands time).

They will be joined by the rest of the squad made up of players from Auckland and Brisbane.

The Cook Islands Rugby New Zealand Inc. has been tasked to field the national men’s and women’s teams, on behalf of the Cook Islands Rugby Union (CIRU), at this year’s regional tournament.

CIRU president Simiona Teiotu earlier said due to the national body’s “financial states”, the CIRU NZ will attend the regional tournament.

Yesterday, Teiotu confirmed the Oceania Rugby is helping fund the three Rarotonga-based players airfares from Auckland to Brisbane and return as well as ground logistics costs.

He said former All Black Michael Jones and Matson Shipping have come onboard to support the players with “other costs like medical insurance etc .”

Julieanne Westrupp of Tupapa Maraerenga Rugby Club – Browne’s domestic club – said: “Rima Browne will be attending thanks to the community’s financial support namely Ina, Ron, Vaine and Bank of the Cook Islands, Malcolm, Jessie and Cook Islands General Transport and some other anonymous sponsors.” Moana Minerals have also helped sponsor Browne’s trip.

Westrupp also thanked Andrew Iroa and Evolution Sports for helping Browne with her training .

“Rima (Browne) was one of the unsuccessful trialists for the women’s Rugby League World Cup campaign but she is ecstatic to be able to use all the hard training she has been doing for this 7s campaign.

“She has represented the country in the game of touch rugby at the last Pacific Games and has played a number of domestic games both in union and league and hails from the Tupapa Panthers Club.

“Browne is looking forward to gaining further experience and in return looks forward to coming back home to share this with other future Cook Islands women (players).”

Tiaore, who played for the victorious Arorangi Bears at the Raro 7s, was also named the most valuable player in the women’s competition.

The national men’s team will be coached by Koiatu Koiatu of Brisbane and managed by Auckland’s Opura Samuel. Maia Samuela of Auckland will manage the Cook Islands women’s team which will be coached by Tau Korea Moeke also of Auckland.

The top two men’s and the top placed women’s teams at the 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge will qualify to the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series. The winner of the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will achieve core status on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2024.

The men’s event will feature Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Australia A. Tonga and Papua New Guinea will be hoping to return to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series after both participated this year. Kiribati will be the unknown factor in their maiden outing at an international event.

The women’s side of the tournament will see the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu all trying to prevent Papua New Guinea returning to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series for a second year. The event is the first outing for all teams beside Papua New Guinea since the 2019 Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship.

A total of 42 matches (24 Men’s and 18 women’s matches) will be played across two days of competition.

Cook Islands teams

Men’s – Repoama Morris-Ponga (Auckland), Junior Kiria (Auckland), Junior Taia (Auckland), Habasaloma Tamarua (Auckland), Kaiya Mareva Tumaki (Auckland), Heimona Potoru (Auckland), King Paulo (Auckland), Kobe Tararo (Brisbane), Yvahn Allsworth (Brisbane), Brian Akava (Rarotonga), William Ravatudeis (Perth), Zacharius Patai (Auckland), Adam Lewis John Vardey, Simon John Kopu. Manager – Opura Samuel (Auckland), Coach – Koiatu Koiatu (Brisbane), Physio – Roimata Herman (Auckland), Assistant Manager –Terepai Samuel (Brisbane), Assistant Coach – Adam Vardey (Auckland).

Women’s – Rima Talia Browne (Rarotonga), Nicol Tiaore (Rarotonga), Manea Poa (Auckland), Paulina Morris-Ponga (Auckland), Tamara Ruaporo (Auckland), Kaden Rota-Moeke (Auckland), Marissa Alexis Elenor Moira Iroa (Auckland), Myracle Monga (Auckland), Mary Tuaana (Brisbane), Beniamina Koiatu (Auckland), Alekermay Tuaana (Brisbane), Gazelle Tiaremanea Tumu Makara, Moehani Pipiniata Samuel, Alekana Dean, Meika Dean, Ratu Chantay Kiria. Manager – Maia Samuela (Auckland), Coach – Tau Korea Moeke (Auckland), Physio – Preston Matete (Auckland), Assistant Manager – Andrew Grant (Auckland), Assistant Coach – Donald Mill (Brisbane).