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Tuesday 7 February 2012 | Published in Regional


For a country lacking in resources and high performance programmes – the Cook Islands sevens team’s win against cash rich USA and Japan is seen as a massive achievement.

The Cooks ended up as runner ups in the shield finals of the tournament missing out on the trophy to Scotland who snuck in with a last minute try to win the match 19-17.

Cook Islands Rugby Union chief executive officer Ben Koteka says that what’s needed to lift the Cooks game at the international level are cash, high performance programmes and more importantly the expertise to deliver such performance programmes.

He adds that due to the country’s population size – it is unlikely that the union will receive any major cash injection from the International Rugby Board.

As well as beating two cash rich nations – 26-22 against USA and 17-10 against Japan – Koteka says the team, which included eight debutant players, now has the depth and experience which will see a more balanced Cook Islands team in the future.

The Cooks now look ahead to October when the next round of qualifier games for the Wellington Sevens will be staged and Koteka says that ideally a 12 month high performance programme is what’s needed to keep Cook Islands players at the top of their game rather than the three-month build up that the team goes through before the Wellington Sevens.

While there’s no sign of large amounts of cash landing in the local union’s lap, Koteka says that a number of local athletes and officials are well on their way to achieving qualifications in delivering high performance programmes which will only mean good things for local athletes across all codes.