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Cooks qualify

Monday 4 October 2010 | Published in Regional

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The Cook Islands national sevens rugby side have qualified for Wellington and Adelaide tournaments next year.

This follows a credible showing at the 2010 Oceania Sevens Championships held in Darwin on October 1 and 2.

On day one the Cooks beat Vanuatu 21-10 before losing to both Tonga (22-14) and Australia (19-7).

On the second day the Cooks went down narrowly to PNG 21-17 before bouncing back to beat Vanuatu 33-7 and Niue 15-5.

At the end of the tournament the national side was placed fifth out of the eight teams and have now qualified to attend the 2011 IRB Wellington and Adelaide sevens tournaments.

The leading point scorer in Darwin was James Stannard of Australia with 66 points and in second place was the Cook Islands Nathan Robinson(CI) on 52 points – comprising of six tries and 18 conversions.

Robinson with his six tries was also joint top try scorer together with Australians Stannard, Luke Morahan and Lachlan Turner and Samoa’s Fautua Otto.

Other Cook Islanders on the listing, with three tries each, were Teina Savage and Jerome Vogel. The Cook Islands team to Darwin was: Adam Vardey(Capt), Ashley Drake, Dexter Mahroney, Teina Savage, Kairan Mahia, Beau Mokotupu, Tepou Taana, Francis Takiari, Jerome Manukete- Vogel, Messine Manapori, Nathan Robinson and Richard Connal. Coach: Ramsey Tomokino, Manager: John Wichman, Physio: Lee-Van Santos and Trainer: Keith Roberts.

The playing squad comprised four local players: Taana, Savage, Mahia and Manapori (Aitutaki), Mokotupu and Robinson from Australia with the remainder of the players from NZ. Two players, Mahia and Connal, were from the U19 CI team that toured Samoa in August this year.

Congratulations to the team and all who have been involved in the qualifying process.

Currently the Oceania region (including NZ and Australia) boasts the most number of teams on the IRB 7’s circuit.

The Oceania qualifying tournament was competitive as the majority of the teams (Australia, Samoa, Tonga, PNG and Niue) were also using this tournament as preparation and a final ‘hit-out’ before traveling to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The closeness of the third and fourth playoff between Tonga 12 v 7 PNG and especially the 2009/2010 IRB world sevens champions Samoa being defeated 34-12 by Australia in the first and second playoff should make things very interesting leading into the Commonwealth Games.