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Best rugby moments of 2021

Saturday 8 January 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Best rugby moments of 2021
Tupapa Panthers successfully defended the Raro 7s tournament held in December. 21121206

Below is our year in review of the best moments in Rugby for 2021.


U18 Women’s Legacy Tour Sept. 2021: with mass resignations of the originally selected management team, a new group were appointed, and they were: Head Coach - Jules Westrupp, Assistant Coach: Sunielia Tom, Manager: Rachel Metuangaro, Strength & Conditioning Trainer: Jamie Gotty. The U18 Plans are to have regular weekly gym sessions and they have entered a team into CI Touch competition (February to April, 2022).  


The U18 management did a good job to revive the U18 Women’s Rugby 15s campaign with the girls training 6am Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday sessions. The plan now is to improve the fitness base while slowly feeding in ball work and contact skills.   


On Monday 22/03/21 we started our Tereora College Year 9 (Quick Rip) & Year 10 (Rugby 7s) 5-week programme. We recruited five rugby development officers (Terry Henry, Travel Makara, Teava Nanai, Apii Vavia and Sunielia Tom). 225 students involved (150 boys + 75 girls). The five week programme ran from Monday 22 March to Friday 23 April 2021.


Monday 12th to Thursday 15th April, Year 9 Quick Rip 7s (Boys & Girls) inter-class competition is held on Nikao Field. This was an opportunity to involve the students in Event Management duties for the class on Bye, with a well organised competition including a managers meeting, assistant referees, timekeeping, scoring and even CITV commentary.

New Project:  Mon 26 – Fri 30/04/21 we ran the inaugural April Holiday Skills Workshop (14 – 17 years) with total 40 (20 Boys and 20 Girls) attending at Arorangi Field. Values based, holistic-type programme with guest speakers and Zoom hook-ups with various persons organised to showcase rugby as a viable career pathway. Lots of positive feedback from this inaugural programme.

2021 CI rugby development players currently experiencing NZ Rugby are: North Otago RFU: Olive Willie and Alistair Newbigging to Waitaki Boys High School, Matt Maui and Adyn Kapi to Waitaki RFC. They are joined by female players – Charlize Tumu-Makara and Daimzel Rongokea to Waitaki “Wahine”. Juronia Raea and King David Paulo to Waimea RFC Tasman/NZ. Matamanea Matapakia at Geraldine RFC (South Canterbury). Maeva Robati and Jireh Vunibaka – Rangiora High School (North Canterbury).


Another busy School Term 2 with some new rugby projects. We started our Tereora College Year 10 Rugby 7s competition played over two weeks. Five teams with 60 boys involved. Again, another wonderful opportunity to involve the students in Event Management with a properly planned competition complete with a Managers Meeting, the team on Bye did assistant referees, timekeeping, scoring and even CITV commentary duties.

The 2021 Rising Stars – Rugby Championships started in May 21 and ran for five weeks. Teams participating – U11s & U13 Primary QR (21 teams from all the Rarotonga schools) and Rugby 7s College (six teams – Tereora, Nukutere and Papaaroa). Altogether 324 boys. 


This was a very busy month with the build-up and continual weekly training sessions with the schools/colleges Rising Stars - Rarotonga Rugby Championships. Healthy Living modules continue to be delivered in the primary schools (Papaaroa, Arorangi, St Joseph, Titikaveka, Takitumu) as part of the Quick Rip programme.

The CIRU AGM elections were held: Ashleigh Willis (new president), Simiona Teiotu (vice president), Anthony Turua (treasurer), Rachel Metuangaro (new assistant treasurer), William Taripo (secretary), Tereapii Tumutoa (assistant secretary). The new executive committee features two female members.


The Rarotonga Club 15s competition kicked off on Saturday 3 July and will finish with the grand finals on Saturday 11 September, 2021. Grades: U9s feature four teams, U11 also featuring four teams all playing Quick Rip. U13s Rugby 10s only two teams, two each U16s and U19s and four Senior A men’s teams.

Cook Islands 15s played against Tonga in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, going down 10-54. Tonga proving too strong on the day after heading into the break leading by 26-10. The lone Cooks try was scored by hooker Ben Tou with a conversion and penalty kicked by halfback Toka Sopoaga.


The women’s 7s final was held at The Swamp. Avatiu Eels beat Arorangi Bears 12-5. The more experienced Bears struggled to get any clean breaks against a young Eels side under the guidance of player/coach Sunielia Tom. The Eels tries were scored by their young fleet-footed utility backs, Mahana Sijp and Nicole Tiaore. Mahana also converted her own first half try. The Bears lone try was scored by their utility back Rima Browne. The Eels led 7-0 at half time.

In a testing inaugural club year congratulations to all three senior women’s 7s teams that were strong and courageous to participate in the 2021 Club season. With the growth of women’s rugby all around the world it is important that CIRU encourage more women’s rugby competition to be played at home for equal opportunity.


Rarotonga Club 15s finals were played on Saturday, September 11 at Tupapa Field. Senior A Tupapa 32 – 13 Arorangi. U19 Avatiu 29 – 17 Arorangi.

Senior A – Tupapa Panthers: 32 (Tries: Peniasi Dakuwaqa, Tua Ravla, Simeli Ravula and Savenaca “Junior” Buresova. Conv: Kelepi “Gabby” Komaisavou (3). Pen: K Komaisavou (2)) Arorangi Bears: 13 (Try: Franco Smith. Conv: Viiga Ruepena Pen: V Ruepena (2))

U19 – Avatiu Eels: 29 (Tries: Maka Maui, Ryan Daniel, Beau Daniel & Francis Akava. Conv: Jordan Peraua (3). Pen: J Peraua) Arorangi Bears 17 (Tries: Toru Mateariki, Tepa Tuaputa and Taio Taio. Conv: Sonny Aratangi).

We were able to secure Vodafone sponsorship (Team playing kit, polos and VIK prizes) for the Tri Nations 15s to be held in November, 2021.


From Wednesday, October 6 to Thursday, October 7, we ran the U15 Boys and U18 Girls Holiday programme at Arorangi Field followed by the U17 Boys Holiday programme at week later.

Since the Covid-19 Alert Level 2 lockdown in early September 2021, we do not have any visiting teams. In October five rugby 7s and a 15s team have since withdrawn from touring Rarotonga this year.


The Vodafone – Tri Nations 15s Competition was held between Tabusoro – Fiji, Tokouso – Samoa/Tonga and Cook Islands Residents:

  • Match #1 on 6/11/21: Tabusoro – Fiji 31 – 8 CI Residents
  • Match #2 on 13/12/21: Tokouso 22 – 8 CI Residents
  • Match #3 on 20/12/21: Tabusoro - Fiji 24 – 20 Tokouso

2021 Final Standings: 1st: Tabusoro, 2nd: Tokouso and 3rd: Cook Islands

From November 23-25, the Tereora College Year 9 and Year 10 Mixed Quick Rip 6s Competition held at BCI Stadium.  Ten teams with 70 each boys and girls took part.


On December 1, the U13 Rarotonga Quick Rip 7s Championships was held at Ngatangiia Field. The day started at 9am with the Inclusive Activity Day for the 20 disabled students. Thank you to Andre Hansen (MOE) for organising and for CISNOC support on the day. Five schools and 12 teams (boys and girls) participated in the U13 Quick Rip Championships with Nukutere winning the boys and Avarua winning the girls division.

Thursday 9/12/21: CI Referees receive their newly sponsored gears from Cook Islands Building Supplies.

December 10 and 11: Raro 7s Tournament held at Avatiu Field. For the first time-ever the Tupapa Panthers won both the men’s and women’s Raro 7s Community Finals, a first-time feat for any club and a show of their dominance in local rugby. 

Results – 2021 RARO 7s Mens Finals: Panthers 21-5 Yalovata and 2021 RARO 7s Womens Finals: Panthers 10-5 Bears.

2021 RARO 7 Under 17 Mens – The overall winner, decided on points count-back, was the Bears.

Finals – Best and Fairest Player(s) – Kelepi ‘Gabby’ Komaisavou (Panthers), Patty Taea (Panthers), Nuku Mokoroa (U17 Bears), Sailosi Nagi (Yalovata), Teretia Teinaki (Bears) and William Trego (U17 Mangaia). The rookie of the tournament – Troy Matutu (Atiu) and Vicky Fatiaki (Bears)                               

It was great to involve the age-grades in the RARO 7s competition and this will be something to improve for the future as we look to encourage and develop pathways from home.

The U19 Rarotonga versus Aitutaki series played in Aitutaki. Coached by ex-Cook Islands 7s and 15s representative Teokotai Tuaivi, the U19 Rarotonga travelled to Aitutaki to play two matches against the locals. In match one played on Tuesda, December 14, Rarotonga won by 20-13. In the second match played on December 16, Rarotonga won again by 31-13. Aitutaki led at halftime by 13-7 however Rarotonga finished stronger.

CIRU Message of Appreciation: During this time of uncertainty thank you all for your continuous support and for being strong and courageous to adapt and ensure that rugby was played and enjoyed at all levels of the rugby pyramid this year. And more importantly we would like to thank the Lord for blessing us with all you wonderful and beautiful people “each and everyone just as important as the other” to ensure a successful and enjoyable 2021 season.