Tuesday 17 November 2009 | Published in Regional
It’s back to the drawing board for Cook Islands rugby sevens after the national side failed to qualify for the 2009-2010 IRB sevens circuit at the weekend’s qualifier tournament in Tahiti.
This is understood to be the first time the Cook Islands won’t feature at the popular Wellington Sevens in February.
The Cooks got their sevens qualifier campaign off to a good start with wins on the first day against Vanuatu 33-14 and Tahiti 41-0.
Then the Cooks faced Pacific Mini Games gold medallists Samoa and were soundly beaten 33-7.
The local team did well to regroup when they faced Tonga in what was a highly competitive match that went down to the wire.
But it was the big Tongan side that triumphed 21-19.
A bruised Cook Islands side then faced Niue in a highly defensive match with Niue edging out the local side 7-5.
The Cooks had little time to recover before they faced Papua New Guinea in the first match of the last day of the tournament (Saturday).
Papua New Guinea was just too fast for the local side which went down 19-7.
But by this stage it was all too late for the Cooks to reach a top four placing and secure a spot on the sevens circuit.
With nothing to lose, the Cooks unleashed all their frustrations on Vanuatu in the playoff for fifth and sixth, winning 43-13.
Samoa won the tournament by beating Tonga in the finals 31-14 while Papua New Guinea went on to beat Niue 21-12 for third place.
Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Niue will all head to the Wellington sevens in February while the Cooks will regroup and plan as to what they will do over the next year to get back on the circuit.
Tonga will also go to the Adelaide tournament with Papua New Guinea.
A full debrief is expected from team coach Ramsey Tomokino and team manager Anthony Turua on exactly what went wrong for the Cook Islands team in Tahiti.