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Tri Nations 15s striding out in top gear

Wednesday 6 September 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Tri Nations 15s striding out in top gear
Tri Nations 15s teams and sponsors Vodafone Cook Islands. Front Left: Jade Dyer (Vodafone), CIRU Ben Koteka and Lahaina Kiely (Vodafone). Back Left: Lua Tua ( Capt Tokouso), Faafoi Lualua (Tokouso), Tevita Niusama (Capt Fiji), Jone Rainima (VC Fiji), Toru Katuke (Capt CIs) and Wallace Aroita (CIs). MELINA ETCHES/ 23090504

More rugby fever is scheduled for this weekend as the Cook Islands Rugby Union (CIRU) prepares to host the anticipated residential Tri Nations 15s match starting this Saturday 9th September.

Teams from three rugby powerhouse communities on Rarotonga - Cook Islands, Tokouso (Samoa/Tonga) and Fiji - will be battling it out at the Aretere Park in Avatiu.

All teams will be sporting brand new gear - jerseys, shorts, socks,  polo t-shirts and singlets - kindly sponsored by Vodafone Cook Islands.

Ben Koteka, the CIRU Rugby Development Manager signed a new three year contract with Vodafone’s Lahaina Kiely on Monday, witnessed by representatives from the Tri Nations teams.

 “We are so grateful for the continuing support from Vodafone for this tournament that started during Covid,” said Koteka.

“Vodafone’s valued sponsorship also helps to inspire the dedicated communities taking part in this tournament.”

Harriet Tuara from Vodafone said “we are proud to continue to support rugby.”

The Tri-Nations is the next step above club-level, called regional level-rugby.

In 2020 during Covid, CIRU had to look at innovative ways to engage in more exciting internal competition, the concept for the resident Tri Nations came to light from former Cook Islands National 15s player Pare Rongokea Jnr.

The first clash this Saturday will be between the Cooks captained by Toru Katuke and Tokouso led by Lua Tua.

Although all three teams are struggling to lure in players due to their work commitments, Lua from the Tokouso team said he is looking forward to their first game up.

“We are calling our fans out there to come and support the teams,” said Tua.

The Cooks resident team is coached by Head Coach Andrew Iroa, Tavake Manuela and Wallace Aroita.

“We are in the preparations for the Pacific Games and getting the team together, so watching the play is going to be good,” said Aroita.

Fiji’s team is captained by Tevita Niusama and coached by Ilai Bideni.

Vice-captain Jone Rainima says it has been difficult getting players to training times because of their jobs.

“It’s been hard but we are managing a team and we have players on the island and looking forward to our first game next week,” said Rainima.

The teams merchandise (singlets and polos) can be purchased at Vodafone Cook Islands in Tutakimoa Road or at their booth on Saturday morning at the Punanga Nui Market.