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Good Rugby Exchange between Papeete and the Panthers

Saturday 1 July 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Rugby league, Sports


Good Rugby Exchange between Papeete and the Panthers
Papeete Rugby Club rugby match with Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers. MELINA ETCHES/23063001

Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers defeated visitors Papeete Rugby club 28 – 20 in a friendly match this week. Melina Etches reports.

In a celebration of Tahiti Independence Day, the visiting Papeete Rugby club played a heartened game of rugby against the Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers on Thursday afternoon at Victoria Park.

During the 40 minute match, the Tahitian settled in the opposing camp.

The Panthers then got their hands on the ball and did the talking with their experience, speed and power to score four converted tries taking the score to 28-0 at half time.

Somewhat physically tested, the visitors found more resourceful players from Rarotonga to join them in the 2nd half to bite back at the scoreboard crossing the try line four times.

The final score in favour of the Panthers was 28 - 20.

Panthers coach, the renowned Darren Piri said, since Papeete only had 16 players they assisted them with some players during the game.

“They have their basics and good understanding of the game and I like the way they are tackling, it is good to see.

“It was also good to see Yannick (Yannick Gooding) back on the field, he had played here in the International 7’s way back.

“Thank you to Yannick and his club for choosing Tupapa Mararenga for this twinning programme,” he said.

The Papeete Rugby Club was initiated in 2015 with the aim to learn more about the game and to build relationships.

Tahiti’s 16 rugby players flew into Rarotonga last Saturday as part of their “twinning agreement” programme with the Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers which was signed in 2019 between the Papeete Rugby Club Honorary President Olivier Pecqueux and the Panthers.

The team is led by Manager - Anthony Hourtal and the Captain - Yannick Gooding who is one of the founders of the team.

Allan Gooding, one of the players said, “We were new then one of the newest teams in Tahiti so we did a twinning programme with the Rapa Nui club.

“We saw it was beneficial for both teams so then we thought to create a bond with the Pacific Islands, and some of our players had contacts so then we started to create more connections,” said Gooding.

Papeete Rugby Club has over 100 members and many are youngsters wanting to learn and know more about rugby.

Gooding said, “Rugby in schools is increasing, we are the newest team in Tahiti but we have the biggest school.”

He said this year the club took a group of young kids to the Los Angeles 7’s tournament in the United States for a rugby camp, in which he said through this partnership maybe some of the Tupapa kids can come over and join our training camps.

Herenni Peretti, another member of the team said, we know that the Cook Islands are good at rugby.

“In Tahiti rugby is not the same sport as here, it is not really popular.

“But, we think because we are Pacific, we are built for a sport like rugby - a contact sport… look at Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

“Rugby is also about brotherhood, respect, humility and making friendships,” Peretti.

The team have been enjoying the island hospitality, visiting the beaches, experiencing the lagoon cruise and more.

“We especially want to thank the Tupapa Maraerenga Club for making this strip really special for us, for the welcoming, the exchange and for everything.

“It has been very special, and we feel very blessed and feel very privileged.

“It has been wonderful being here in Rarotonga and we are really looking forward to welcoming them to Tahiti next year to our tournament,” said Peretti.

The Papeete club returned to Tahiti this afternoon.