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‘Not rattled’: Cooks face Aussies

Thursday 11 May 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Sports, Touch Rugby

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‘Not rattled’: Cooks face Aussies
The Cook Islands has entered two teams, Under 18 Girls and Under 18 Boys, in the inaugural Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup. 23051031

A clash between the Cook Islands and Australia will serve as the opening match of the inaugural Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup this week.

Cook Islands Touch president Julz Westrupp said their Under 18 Girls team is “not rattled” about going up against the Emus in the first game of the new tournament, which pits the best young players in the Asia Pacific region against each other.

“We are aware that we are playing a team that is most likely very experienced, but we feel we will be able to give them a good game,” Westrupp said.

The country’s touch rugby association has entered two teams into the youth cup, Under 18 Boys and Under 18 Girls, with the boys also facing the Emus in their first match.

Held in Brisbane, the tournament kicks off on Friday and runs until Sunday (Australia time).

Westrupp took eight boys and six girls from the islands to take part: Ngametua Tuakana, James Tarau, Maka Maui, Maru Tutai, Stanley Tutai, Willie Trego, Oscar Wichman, Anapa Nicholas, Mahana Sijp, Tashi Kopu, Danni Tixier, Missy McQuarie, Teremoana McQuarie, and Tara Williams.

Cook Islanders living in New Zealand and Australia filled out the rest of the teams.

With the 14 players based in the Cook Islands needing $4000 each to go to the competition, the community rallied around them to help raise nearly $30,000.

“We would like to thank all our families and friends back home and overseas for all the support given in all our fundraisers,” Westrupp said.

The full Cook Islands teams came together for day one of their camp on Wednesday (Australia time), going over game plays and policies during a three-hour and then two-hour training session, Westrupp said.

The players were “excited to finally meet up as a team and have bonded as a team”, she said.

“The weather is cold, which is very different for our players, but they are adjusting positively.”

The Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup is a Tier 2B event – meaning it is a developmental, multi-national competition featuring member countries of the Federation of International Touch and developing nations.

Nations competing in the youth cup include the Cook Islands, Australia, Malaysia, Niue, Philippines, Singapore, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and New Zealand.

Under 18 and Under 20 Mens, Womens, and Mixed round out the team categories.

The Cook Islands were only able to pull together teams for two categories due to short notice.

Westrupp said the players and management encouraged everyone to watch the matches live on the Federation of International Touch’s Facebook page, as “our kids make our country proud”.