CNMI rugby team to challenge Guam

A CNMI player tries to avoid being tackled by a Guam defender during an exhibition game at the CPA Airport Field last year. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The CNMI National Rugby Team’s preparations for the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa continue, as the squad is scheduled to play against the Guam Rugby Club in an exhibition game next month.

Northern Marianas Rugby Union president and team captain Stanley Iakopo said the visiting club is among the top rugby groups in Guam and has players who are also on the island’s national squad. The CNMI vs. Guam game will be played on March 16 at the CPA Airport Field.

“We are inviting the community to come out at the Airport Field and support both teams, especially our national team. Our players are busy getting ready for the Pacific Games and the match against Guam will definitely give our squad the opportunity to gauge where we are at in our preparation for the competition in Samoa,” Iakopo said during the Northern Marianas Sports Association monthly meeting last Thursday at the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter office at the Airport Road.

Next month’s match versus Guam players will be the CNMI’s second, as the two squads collided in a series of exhibition games in June last year. Interestingly, Guam is not listed among the nations competing in this year’s Pacific Games in Apia, while the CNMI joins the host nation, American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Wallis and Futuna in the rugby 7s field. The competition will be held on July 12 and 13 at the Apia Park Stadium.

Flag rugby for kids
Meanwhile, the Northern Marianas Rugby Union will be holding a flag rugby event for the first time.

The series of matches will also take place at the CPA Airport Field on March 16 and will feature students in the first to eighth grade level, according to Iakopo.

“We are excited for this flag rugby because we will be having young students playing at the field. We’ve been promoting flag rugby on island through the help of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and we also donated equipment to some schools,” Iakopo.

“We hope that this flag rugby is something that we could do for our youth on a regular basis,” he added.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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