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League season in limbo

Friday 8 April 2022 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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League season in limbo
Action between Lady Panthers and Lady Bears at the League Nines tournament in January. RASHNEEL KUMAR/22030205

Cook Islands Rugby League has deferred its decision on the domestic 13s competition to next week after a club called for the 2022 season to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Government lifted the suspension of contact sport including rugby league last week with the proviso that players return a negative RAT result on the day.

However sporting federations who were affected by the suspension are undecided whether to resume their competitions or cancel them.

RAT tests will be made available by Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health at a cost of $5 per test, purchased and administered by the relevant sporting bodies.

Those with Covid-19 Green Freedom Pass – given to those who have recovered from the virus – don’t need to test.

Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said: “We have postponed the decision to next week as there are some mixed feelings among the clubs and hope to make a firm decision on this next week whether to continue the competition to a scaled-down competition or cancel the competition together.”

According to Carlson, two of the clubs are revving to get back on the field, requesting for all grades to finish off the rounds and then the playoffs, while one club wants the competition to be cancelled for the year and the other to wait and see.

“One of the clubs supporting the competition to carry is arguing our children are playing together at school with no restrictions, yet they have been told they can’t train or play? (Doesn’t make sense).

“Why in a nation that is 98 per cent vaccinated, do we have to live under all these restrictions in sport when I can see the party buses passing by full of people and the bars and clubs carrying on with zero restrictions?”

Carlson said Covid-19 had added a lot of pressure to the club management in dealing with the logistics to meet with Te Marae Ora requirements including testing and especially the costs for these tests for all grades.

“For us to carry on with the competition, we must have the support of all clubs involved in the competition.”

Cook Islands Touch Association president Julz Westrupp said they will be meeting today to decide on their weekly open and mixed competition.

Last week, Westrupp said they were putting their season “on hold for a week”.

“A lot of the teams have indicated that most of their players haven’t had Covid yet or they were in isolation. We are putting it off for a week but we might extend it to two weeks,” she said last week.

Westrupp said they were also considering holding a mini season in May “if things don’t turn into our favour”.

“Our matches are played on Mondays and Wednesdays so it doesn’t affect other sport including netball and league trainings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

In a statement last week, Prime Minister Mark Brown said: “I know some sports codes are delaying the resumption of competition until after we have peaked. This is an idea as we do have a large number of people in isolation so waiting for a week or two is good thinking.”

“We have also received some push back on the charging of RAT tests for players. This can become an expensive exercise for team sports in particular.

“I have asked my team to review this and come up with a better solution by next week (this week).”