Tupapa Maraerenga Rugby League Club held a feed day to attract new members/players, which was successful in terms of team bonding but unsuccessful in recruiting new players. TUPAPA PANTHERS/24020923
Lady Panthers are keen to get back on the paddock after a disappointing Nines tournament earlier this year, but they are excited to field a team in the 2024 Cook Islands Rugby League 13s competition.
Lady Panthers will take on Lady Bulldogs in the
opening women’s match of the season at Victoria Park in Tupapa at 4.15pm.
The women’s match will be followed by the replay of
the 2023 premier men’s final between defending champions Arorangi Bears and
Tupapa Panthers at 5pm.
Lady Panthers coach Koa Kopu says they have been
struggling with numbers due to various reasons, including players moving
overseas, focusing on other sports, or dealing with injuries.
This year, Tupapa Maraerenga Rugby League Club held a
feed day to attract new members/players, which was successful in terms of team
bonding but unsuccessful in recruiting new players.
“Again, we seem to be begging, asking, and looking for
new players,” says Kopu.
Luckily, a few new players joined this week, requiring
them to go back to basics. However, Kopu is thrilled to be able to field a team
for Saturday’s game.
They have a couple of experienced players, June Willie
and Kiana Sword Tua, who recently represented Cook Islands at the Pacific Games
last year. Rima Browne, a 7s and touch player, will be leading the team
alongside Sword Tua. Touch players Julieanne (Julz) Westrupp and her daughter
Tashi will also strengthen the Lady Panthers this season, according to Kopu.
Mii Piri Savage, a newcomer with a soccer background
but no rugby experience, born and bred in the village, is a player to watch out
for today, says Kopu.
His focus this year is on ensuring the technical side
of the game is coached well to minimise injuries.
“Development is a priority as well to ensure our ladies
can reap opportunities when and if it arises.”
Kopu welcomes the Lady Bulldogs to Victoria Park this
Saturday and wishes them well in the game and the rest of the season.
He also thanked Cook Islands Rugby League (CIRL) for
their continued support of women’s rugby league in and for considering a
shorter game time (20 minutes per half).
He welcomes any ladies interested in playing rugby
league who don’t belong to a club to join the Lady Panthers in Tupapa
Training is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5pm. Kopu
wished all the clubs and grades the best of luck for the season.
Today at Victoria Park – 12pm Junior Development
(six years to 12 years old), 2.15pm U14 Panthers vs Sea Eagles, 3.15pm U16 Panthers
vs Bears, 4.15pm Women’s Panthers vs Bulldogs, 5pm Premier Panthers vs Bears.