Saturday 17 March 2012 | Published in Regional
Disappointment has descended again on the island of Aitutaki as news trickled through on Thursday that the island’s rugby league Sharks club will have no opponent this week.
The Takuvaine Warriors were due to play the Sharks yesterday in Vaipae, however a disappointed and angry Aitutaki mayor John Baxter reported that news had come through that the Rarotonga Warriors club was not visiting the island for their scheduled match against the Sharks.
“We heard the Warriors are not coming because they are at the bottom of the points table and didn’t want to spend all that money coming to play the Sharks,” says Baxter.
Baxter says the entire population of Aitutaki are bitterly disappointed that the Warriors are not travelling to the island as the match was hyped up as the event of the week on the outer island.
The island even ran a fundraiser through the week for funds to feed, water and look after the Warriors while on the island.
“We look after the clubs when they come here – we feed them, give them drinks and they all have a good time.”
Baxter says the whole island is extremely upset at the cancellation of the game.
“Everyone looks forward to the games when they are played here and not just that, we rescheduled other events to fit the league game in.”
Baxter says that in anticipation of the match, volleyball games and other events were brought forward to earlier in the week and pushed to next week to accommodate league.
Adding to the disappointment, Aitutaki islanders are dealing with rumours circulating on the island that the Sharks’ next opponents, the Tupapa Panthers, will also forfeit their match on the island in a week’s time.
“We are hearing rumours that the Panthers won’t be coming up next week because they are sitting at the top end of the table and they can afford to lose the two points if they default the game,” says Baxter.
Baxter is also upset that Rarotonga clubs are not playing to the spirit of the game – a sentiment echoed by Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson who says he’s been doing his best to rally the teams to make the commitment and travel to Aitutaki to play the Sharks.
Carlson is blaming the lack of commitment by Rarotonga clubs to travel to Aitutaki squarely on the executives of each club.
“This lack of commitment by the clubs is a reflection of the poor leadership within those clubs,” says Carlson.
Our goals are to grow the game in the Cook Islands hence it’s called the Cook Islands Rugby League Association and not Rarotonga Rugby League,” says Charles.
“If club leaders don’t grasp that overall vision then we have a problem. You become inwardly focused and don’t care what happens outside your boundary.”
Carlson says that the association has gone out of its way to find the funds to help subsidise clubs travelling to Aitutaki.
“So it’s a give and take thing not just a give me mentality.”