Rugby league in the Cook Islands

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Rugby league in the Cook Islands
Country Cook Islands
National team Cook Islands
First played 1980

Rugby league is a popular[1] team sport played in the Cook Islands.



Officially the club rugby league competition commenced 1980. The first international match was played against Niue at the 1986 Pacific Cup which was hosted in Rarotonga and also included teams from: Samoa, Tonga, NZ Maori, Tokelau, . In the mid 1990s Rugby League in the Cook Islands received significant funding through the SuperLeague organisation[citation needed] however money from this source is no longer available[citation needed]. Traditionally, much of the rugby league played by Cook Islanders has been in Australia[citation needed] and New Zealand where there are strong Cook Island populations[citation needed]. In recent times, this has changed considerably.

In more recent times Cook Islands rugby league has received a major boost through the involvement of former professional rugby league players Kevin Iro and Matt Rua (both native Cook Islanders)[2] in the form of selector and defensive coach for the national side. Both players represented New Zealand internationally and played many NRL games.


  • President, Cook Islands Rugby League: Charles Carlson
  • Selectors: Kevin Iro, Charles Carlson, Ina Konito and No'ora Samuela
  • RLIF Representative: Kevin Iro
  • Head Coach: Ina Konito
  • Defensive Coach: Matty Rua
  • Attacking Coach: Kevin Iro

Cook Islander Rugby League Players

Aaron Cannings

Karl Temata

Byron Ford

Zeb Taia

Frank Pritchard

Stacey Katu

Ben Vaeau

Tere Glassie

George Tuakura

Frank Watene

Kane Epati

Keith Lulia

Leroy Joe

Dana Wilson

Geoff Daniela

Tyrone Pau

Notable players


The domestic Cook Islands rugby league competition for 2010 begins on 5 February with the following teams competing:


  • Titikaveka Bulldogs
  • Tupapa Panthers
  • Avatiu Eels
  • Takuvaine Warriors - juniors only
  • Arorangi Bears
  • Aitutaki Sharks - senior team only
  • Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles


  • 1994 Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles
  • 1995 Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles
  • 1996 Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles
  • 1997 Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles
  • 1998 Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles - 26-25 - Titikaveka Bulldogs
  • 1999 Avatiu Eels - bt - Arorangi Bears
  • 2000
  • 2001 Titikaveka Bulldogs - 33-8 - Aviatu Eels
  • 2002 Titikaveka Bulldogs
  • 2003 Arorangi Bears - 35-34 - Tupapa Panthers
  • 2004 Avatiu Eels - 14-8 - Tupapa Panthers
  • 2005 Tupapa Panthers - 24-12 - Titikaveka Bulldogs
  • 2006 Avatiu Eels - 28-24 - St.George Pitbulls
  • 2007 Avatiu Eels - 22-17 - Arorangi Bears
  • 2008 Tupapa Panthers - 21-6 - Avatiu Eels
  • 2009 Tupapa Panthers - 25-16 - Avatiu Eels
  • 2010 Avatiu Eels - 28-16- Tupapa Panthers
  • 2011 Avatiu Eels
  • 2012 Titikaveka Bulldogs 9-8 Avatiu Eels

The National Team

Other Representative Sides

In 2005 the Cook Islands Rugby League Avaiki XIII Tri Series was played between three Cook Island sides (Australian Cook Island Style, NZ Cooks and a Resident XIII). The winners of the series were the Australian Cook Islands Style team. This was used to select the national side that drew a three match series with the New Zealand Māori


NZ Cooks v Resident XIII, 25 November 2005

Australian Cook Island Style 26 NZ Cooks 14

Australian Cook Island Style 24 Residents XIII 18, 18 November 2005 changed