The 2020 rugby union season kicks off today with giants Tupapa taking on a new look Titikaveka side.
Only four teams will compete in this year’s Rarotonga Club 15s competition which gets underway this afternoon.
This after former giants Takuvaine pulled the plug at the eleventh hour.
Simiona Teiotu, the president of Cook Islands Rugby Union, said the club advised him of their decision on Tuesday.
Teiotu said Takuvaine didn’t have enough players to field a full squad at the weekly games.
He said the team had been training for over a month and was looking forward to this year’s competition.
“They had six to 10 players turning up to their training and after this week’s training, they decided they didn’t have the numbers. The club did a risk assessment before their president came to me and relayed their decision,” Teiotu said. “Obviously some emotions came out because we were expecting them this season but we can understand their situation.”
Teiotu said the players who were training with the club have now joined the neighbouring Tupapa and Avatiu sides.
Takuvaine president Poto Ngaroi said they were disappointed with their decision but had no other option.
“There were not many local players turning up for training and that made it hard for us to put together a team. We had a group of Samoan boys who joined us and were looking forward to playing for us this season,” Ngaroi said.
“The players are now free to join any club participating in the competition.”
Ben Koteka, Cook Islands Rugby Union’s development manager, called Takuvaine’s non participation in the competition “sad especially given the rich history of the club”.
The side was a powerhouse several years ago, retaining the Rarotonga Club 15s title for three consecutive years.
Meanwhile the opening round of the 2020 season will see Tupapa hosting Titikaveka at Victoria Park this afternoon.
Tomorrow at The Swamp, arch-rivals Avatiu and Arorangi will battle each other.
Simiona Teiotu said they were expecting a tough battle between the teams in round one competition.
“Titikaveka has combined with Ngatangiia to put together a strong team and Tupapa under Darren Piri is always a strong side so it should be an exciting clash.”
Today: Tupapa Field: Tupapa-Titikaveka – 4.30pm: Senior A (Refs: Holi Kairua, Assist. Ref: Simiona Teiotu / Peter Godfrey)
Tomorrow: Avatiu Field: Avatiu-Arorangi – 11.30am: Juniors U9, 11 & U13s – Quick Rip, half field for all clubs (Refs: Club Officials); 12.30pm: U16 Rugby 15s (2x 25mins) Town-Country (Refs: William Taripo, Assist. Ref: Club Officials), 1.30pm: U19 (2x 35) Town-Country (Refs: Peter Godfrey Assist. Simi Teiotu/Dawn Crummer), 2.50pm: Oldies 45+ (2x 15) Town-Country (Refs: Club Officials, Assist. Ref: Club Officials), 3.30pm: Women’s – Quick Rip Town-Country (Refs: Dawn Crummer Assist. Ref: Club Officials), 4pm: Senior A (2x 40) (Refs: Teokotai Tuaivi Jnr Assist. Ref: Sean Willis/Kora Kora. Sub Bench: Peter Godfrey/Dawn Crummer)