29 Jul 2017

Sport: French contingent boost Tahiti rugby team

11:19 am on 29 July 2017

Tahiti have included eight French-based players in their squad to take on the Cook Islands in rugby's Oceania Cup next weekend.

It will be the territory's first test match since finishing in second place, behind Papua New Guinea, at the last Oceania tournament two years ago.

The Chairman of the Tahiti Rugby Union, Charles Tauziet, said they have 52 players involved in French rugby competitions but a number of them were unavailable.

"No, because their clubs don't release them. We have three: one in Colomiers, one in Agen and one in Lyon that can not be released because they are young players and they play for professional teams and if the team said no and they come (to play for Tahiti) they lost their job, you know?"

"So we bring a group of eight players coming from France. They play in the Fédérale 1 and Fédérale 2 (third and fourth tier)," he said.

It's the best we can do because tickets is very expensive to come from France in this season and the second thing is all the clubs have started the training for the new season, so they don't release easy the players."

The Cook Island beat Tahiti when the teams last met at the 2013 Oceania Cup.

Charles Tauziet believes the territory have improved since then but said the home would be clear favourites in Rarotonga.

"We preferred if we have two games go and back but we have just one game, so it's difficult," he said.

"We feel we are just outsiders and Cook Islands is the favourite but in rugby all is possible. We hope we can try to make our best to win this game."

The winner of next weekend's one-off clash will advance to a home and away playoff against a side from Asia, for a spot in the 2019 Rugby World Cup repechage tournament.