League: Dunedin competition down to three

University vs now defunct Harbour Seals last year. Photo by Craig Baxter.
University vs now defunct Harbour Seals last year. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Rugby League has slipped back in the city after a promising rebirth a couple of years ago.

There was no organised rugby league in Dunedin in 2008 and 2009. New Zealand Rugby League southern zone general manager Steve Martin helped re-establish the sport with a spring competition in 2010, and a winter league was established last year, with four teams contesting the tournament.

But the Harbour Seals have dropped out this season, leaving just three teams. Southland, by comparison, has seven teams in its league.

"We've lost one team, which is disappointing," Martin said.

"But it is just the landscape at the moment. We worked hard to get a fourth team going but we felt it was worth pushing on with three teams.

"They [the Harbour Seals] actually defaulted a couple of times last year.

"What we have found is one of the most important things is actually finding someone who takes responsibility for organising the team. That is where, in the end, we lost the opportunity to have a fourth team, because we just didn't have anyone prepared to organise or coach the team.

"We're better off with three solid teams than four teams with one which is always shaky.

"If we want to build credibility, then we want to make sure that we are not getting defaults and teams which are fronting up week-in, week-out."

The winter league made a low-profile beginning on April 14. The South Pacific Raiders lead the competition with three wins from three matches.

University has one win from two matches and Kia Toa has lost all three of its games.

There are two more rounds, and the final is scheduled for May 26. There will be no rugby league during the university break but a nine-a-side competition will run from June 23 to July 7, and Martin said all eight teams which contested the spring league last season had indicated they were keen to be involved again this season.


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