The Web Ellis Cup, won by the All Blacks in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, is on a tour of the Pacific accompanied by All Black flanker Jerome Kaino. The first stop was Rarotonga.
Kaino played in all six of the All Blacks’ cup games and should be playing for the Auckland Blues right now but he has a shoulder injury. The poor old Blues are having a dreadful season and must be sorely missing Kaino but their loss (and there have been lots of them) is our gain.
This visit was organised around the FORU (Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions) annual general meeting, held in the Cook Islands for the first time. And while he was on the island, Kaino also presented the trophies at the annual sports awards.
But the main event for most of us was the parade through town and the photo opp and poster signing at the Avarua market area. There was a festive atmosphere as hundreds of people – young, old, visitors and locals - gathered, with cameras at the ready.
The event included a turou, dances by local troupe Rau Maire and hakas by youngsters from Takitumu and Rutaki primary schools. Are there any future All Blacks amongst them?
It finished with the local rugby union receiving gear used in the rugby world cup
This video shows some of the highlights of the stopover.