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Town Whites claim first Conan’s Cup title despite final leg loss

Tuesday 2 July 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Sports, Touch Rugby

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Town Whites claim first Conan’s Cup title despite final leg loss
Town Whites hoisted their first ever Conan’s Cup women’s rugby league title on Saturday. CIRL/24070108

The Town Whites hoisted their first Conan’s Cup women’s rugby league title despite going down to the Country Blacks in the final leg of the three-match series over the weekend.

Played alongside the inaugural Cook Islands Rugby League State of Origin Series, the Whites claimed the title after beating the Blacks in the first two matches.

In the opening match held at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia, the Whites defeated the Blacks 26-14. The second leg held at the Aretere Park in Avatiu saw the Whites battling tooth and nail to edge out the Blacks 24-22.

In the final leg held at Nukupure Park on Saturday, the Blacks came out stronger to restore pride and win 14-10 in an exciting clash.

Town Whites’ Kiana Sword-Tua said: “Game three unfortunately didn’t go our way, it was a hard-fought game right until the final whistle, our unforced errors allowed Country to capitalise and ultimately come away with a well-earned win.”

“While it was our intention to take the series in 3-0, Country was the better team on Saturday.”

Sword-Tua says the team is “incredibly proud” of the players for raising their hand up in representing Town, especially the very few who got their first taste of rugby league.

“This is our first time winning the Conan’s Cup which is a great achievement in itself and one that wouldn’t have been possible without our players, coaches and management.

“We would like to thank our coaches Munukoa Kopu and Edwin Teraitua for taking the time to coach us and for quickly putting together this team for this series.”

Sword-Tua said women’s rugby league in the Cook Islands was on the rise, adding the interest in the code especially this year has grown.

“… the inclusion of the Maine Tueporo development programme has been great for the code as it is ensuring our young girls interested in the sport are able to learn and play and enjoy some good footy,” she said.

“Thank you to CIRL for a great season of league and we are looking forward to the 2025 year.”

The Conan’s Cup women’s rugby league series was launched in 2022 in honour of a man who had a passion for league, the late Colin (Conan) Ngari Munokoa-Tini.

Remembered “as the big man with the big heart”, Munokoa-Tini, the eldest son of former MP for Nikao, Ngamau Munokoa and her husband Ngari, passed away at the age of 45 in 2010.

He was a former president of the Arorangi Bears Rugby League Club, a huge supporter of the Avatiu Eels Rugby League Club, and was heavily involved in the referees association and junior development.