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Saturday 1 April 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Sports, Touch Rugby


The Cook Islands’ rising touch rugby stars are “fundraising hard” to raise the $2000 needed per person to compete in a new tournament against the best young players in the Asia Pacific region.

Cook Islands Touch president Julz Westrupp said the association had entered two teams, Under 18 Boys and Under 18 Girls, into the inaugural Asia Pacific Touch Cup taking place in Brisbane, Australia, in May this year.

Westrupp would be taking eight boys and six girls over to the competition, with the rest of the teams – typically made up of between 14 and 16 players – being filled out by Cook Islanders living in Australia.

“The players we are sending over have potential and will shine,” Westrupp said.

“We see this (competition) as a stepping stone. We hope to carry some of these players on to the Pacific Games.

“This is the first time playing touch for many of them, but they have played other codes.”

Westrupp said each player had paid $2000 to enter the competition and were “fundraising hard” to gather the remaining $2000 required per person, including by taking part in a “runathon” on April 29.

The players were “asking the community to please get behind them and sponsor any athlete”, Westrupp said.

“They will also be doing a car wash for the month of April across from the Police station, and a few hot plate fundraisers at Prime Foods.”

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

The competition also has categories for Under 18 Mixed and Under 20 Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed.

However, Westrupp said the association was only able to put together two teams because of “short notice”.

The youth heading to the competition are 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.

Westrupp said the touch rugby season is just 12 weeks a year in the Cook Islands, having kicked off on January 30 this year – so it was good to have another event to help extend the amount of time the island nation’s rugby players were exposed to the sport.

Those that wanted to make a donation to the team could call Westrupp on 55055.

“They are our future.”