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Thursday 8 April 2010 | Published in Regional


The Papua (Wigmore) waterfall in Vaimaanga was a stunning sight on Wednesday morning thanks to the helping hands of the visiting Canadian Foothills Lions rugby team.

Members of the under 16 team spent yesterday morning picking up rubbish around the waterfall area where people had carelessly discarded it.

A group of around 10 boys from the squad of 24 filled four large bags with rubbish ranging from cans and bottles to filthy nappies.

Team assistant coach Chris Thompson says that while rugby was the core reason for the junior rugby teams visit to Rarotonga – they also wanted to a have a bit of a holiday, experience the Cook Islands culture and do some volunteer work.

“It’s not just about rugby,” says Thompson.

While the group fished rubbish from the stream, around the picnic tables at the waterfalls and in the surrounding bush – other members of the team were helping to build picnic tables at the Youth with a Mission base in Vaimaanga where the team is staying.

Another group of player also went out to Titikaveka College and collected up rubbish from the nearby stream.

Thompson says that on Tuesday, the whole team walked the cross island trek from Avatiu to the waterfalls.

“It was a great walk and when we reached the waterfalls you could see the impact of visitors on the environment,” says Thompson. The Foothills Lions squad have already played three rugby matches on the island and were to play their final match at the Takuvaine field yesterday.

“The whole trip has just been fantastic,” says Thompson.

“The local hospitality has just been wonderful and we’ve received so much help from local coaches, manages and especially from Wayne Robati and Ben Koteka. The boys really love Ben.”

Before meeting the combined Arorangi/Takuvaine squad yesterday afternoon – the visiting team had yet to register a win.

But over the first three games the team had made significant improvements, especially after their last game against the Titikaveka-Ngatangiia team thanks to the injection of a couple of local players in their team.

“Our biggest worry before touring here was the size difference between our boys and the local boys,” says Thompson.

“But the local boys have been great.” And after picking up all the rubbish at the waterfalls – the boys coaches and all took a well-earned dip.

The team gets ready to return home at the weekend after a fantastic two weeks of rugby on the rock, Cook Islands culture and volunteering.