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Women’s rugby team to participate in legacy development programme

Tuesday 15 February 2022 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Women’s rugby team to participate in legacy development programme
Ashleigh Wihongi-Willis is the Cook Islands Rugby Union president. PHOTO: CI NEWS/21060905

Cook Islands Rugby Union is looking for interested under-18 players and officials for an upcoming legacy development programme to be held in New Zealand.

The Union will hold a meeting with interested players and their parents/guardians and officials at 7pm tonight at the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee headquarters in Nikao.

Ben Koteka, Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager, said the meeting will be about the national women U18 team’s participation in a legacy development programme as part of the postponed Women’s Rugby Cup 2021 to be played in New Zealand from October to November, 2022.

Fifteen local players and four officials will be part of this team that will attend a development camp from October 5 to 9, 2022.  

The development camp will clash with the Cook Islands Games 2022 but Koteka said players will need to weigh their options and see which event is more important for their future.

The meeting tonight will address any questions regarding this clash and other plans such as selection process/timelines, training and support, fundraising, etc, as well as “a place to best prepare our team for this unique and wonderful opportunity to be at their best when in NZ”. 

The October 2022 development camp will be attended by other developing nations – Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

Koteka said this camp will be an opportunity to further super-charge the unstoppable energy to build women’s rugby in the Cook Islands and the Pacific region.  

In terms of the clash with the Cook Islands Games, Koteka said though not ideal, “we need to look at the prioritisation of women’s rugby and the development that this legacy is able to give our girls long term”.

“We also need to consider that there are several other countries involved in this project whom have already agreed to change dates to suit the NCEA Pacific island curriculum.

“The development pathway after this initiative is the selling point – an understanding that prioritising this tournament can give their children a better long-term outcome than the Cook Islands Games can.

“The same goes for the capacity we are trying to create in the coaching, management and governance areas of Women’s Rugby which are pillars that need to be strengthened concurrently if we are going to make roads to a sustainable women’s rugby programme.”

The national women’s U18 team will be coached by Julz Westrupp and assisted by Jamie Gotty.

Interested participants for tonight’s meeting are requested to bring along their masks and adhere to other Covid-19 safety requirements.