Club offers lure to players

Cromwell Rugby Club president Allan ''Cammy'' Campbell and Otago Polytechnic sports turf management programme manager Gary Smith are hoping a new scholarship will attract more rugby players for Cromwell. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Cromwell Rugby Club president Allan ''Cammy'' Campbell and Otago Polytechnic sports turf management programme manager Gary Smith are hoping a new scholarship will attract more rugby players for Cromwell. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Cromwell rugby players choosing to play for other Central Otago teams have led to the creation of a $1000 scholarship in the hopes the Cromwell club can field the best team possible in its 125th year.

Cromwell Rugby Club president Allan ''Cammy'' Campbell said the club lost four or five players to other clubs last year and Cromwell struggled to field full teams.

But the scholarship was more than just trying to get more players, it was about fostering rugby.

''One day that 17-year-old that got a scholarship and came to play for Cromwell could be playing in the World Cup ... we have to foster rugby and we want them to stay local.''

Originally, the scholarship was open only to people studying Gary Smith's sports turf management course at Otago Polytechnic's Cromwell campus.

Mr Smith said his course attracted sporty people but also people who looked after the grounds and in order to get the best applicants possible, it was decided to offer it to anyone studying at the Cromwell campus.

Mr Smith said while a scholarship would be worth $1000, it was up to the club to decide how many applicants it accepted.

The only catch was that students have to keep up with their studies, and have to stick with the Cromwell club for the whole season. Pre-season training has begun and Mr Campbell said any interested players were welcome to join.

Mr Smith said New Zealand Cricket and New Zealand Golf also gave scholarships to his students.

This year, he had what might be a record number of students - 18 instead of the average 8 to 10.

The Cromwell Rugby Club is to celebrate its 125th anniversary on April 27 with rugby games and a guest speaker.

Mr Campbell said Cromwell would be playing a team from its sister club, Upper Clutha, which it had also played during its centenary.

Club secretary-treasurer Christine Pyper said the guest speaker would be former Australian rugby international Nick Farr-Jones. The following day, Sunday, would include a barbecue brunch, touch rugby games and official photos.

Organisers are hoping for a turnout of about 200 people. Registrations so far had come from all around the country, with one from Australia.

- sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz