Dwyer: Zingari may get nose bleeds at this height

The Wrap

Southern nearly hit 50 to dispatch Harbour with ease and sit atop the table, but this may be a bit misleading as they have played two of the easier sides.

Zingari should cast Shaun Driver in bronze after he kicked a last-minute penalty for the second week in a row to win consecutive games, the second against the Taieri Eels.

They sit in the lofty spot of second, and even I can’t remember when this last happened. Kaik put 70 on AU in their first hit out for the season. Early days, but worrying signs for the North Ground mob. Dunedin put points on the board with an unconvincing win over Varsity, but showed some signs of improvement in the second spell.


Where have all the players gone?

Wasn’t this a hippy’s song in the ’60s? The Highlanders have been doing a great job of recruiting players south under the watchful eye of Kane Jury over the last couple of years, and there are some really talented kids playing Prem and Colts rugby in Dunedin.

But where are they setting their sights long term? Well, it seems a lot of them aren’t hitching their wagon to Otago.

My spies tell me up to 15 of these players have inked deals with Southland. And there’s more! Southland, with Scotty Eade (former Shark) in charge, has set up an academy in Dunedin to boot.

He has up to 15 players training weekly at Shark Park, preparing them for roles of some sort in Southland Rugby. It begs some serious questions. Why are they signing with Southland while playing their rugby in Dunedin? Is there a better pathway? Is it about money?

Are the Highlanders getting on better with Southland?

I’ll attempt to find out over the next few weeks. Don’t get me wrong — hats off to Scotty for pulling this off, but what is Otago going to do about it?

Is there some more to this with 7 or 8 of these kids playing for the Sharks? We know the Sharks have been hamstrung by the CRC limiting their team numbers this year. God forbid, are they contemplating a move to Southland? The mind boggles. More soon, and watch this space.


Referees, and whose problem is it?

There have been headlines in the ODT this week and this is not a referee problem, this is our problem. If we don’t have refs we don’t have rugby, it’s that simple.

Four or five junior colts games don’t have referees this weekend, and schools rugby hasn’t started yet, so this is a big issue. So what do we do? Firstly, we all start actively recruiting now.

You only need to do a two-hour course to actually pick up a whistle in junior grades (scrums must be non-contestable, however). I said on Rugby Chat (odt.co.nz) yesterday that I will do the course next week to see what is involved, so I’ll keep you informed. Not sure if they want me reffing, but one thing at a time! Club sidelines need far better behaviour from supporters. We don’t need young refs having a bad experience.

Clubs, it is on us to sort this out, starting tomorrow — no excuses! So make recruitment personal and control our sidelines are the first two steps — more next week. I’ve done an ODT Landers Chat with our own James Doleman, in my opinion NZ’s best ref, and it will be up on odt.co.nz today — watch it if you can.


Some bits

Congrats to A-One Lolofie, Josh Whaanga and Dylan Pledger for making the initial NZ u20 side. I’m a wee bit disappointed we didn’t get a couple more — very shortsighted.

All the rest of our grades are starting this weekend with Prem Women, Prem and Junior Colts; it will be interesting to see what numbers are like. The rumour is the 747 has landed in Oamaru and North Otago — they start this weekend. I’ll believe it when I see it!


This weekend

Destroyed Craig Cumming with contemptuous ease and on to Murdoch from the Mornington, so it only gets easier! The Southern Magpies head out to the Eelpit to take on Taieri who are normally unbeatable at home.

Not this year though. Southern (12-) do enough and get it done. Kaik (13+) head to Port; with 3 Highlanders in their ranks, including Rhys Patchell, it only goes one way. GI (13+) are at their beloved Toolbox and they will weld AU to the uprights. Unbeaten Zingers host the Sharks (12-) at Bastion Point and I sense Dunedin are starting to come right.

I’m up against Ken Campbell from Clinton, who has just done a three-year stint as chairman of the Southern region, so he will be easy pickings. Owaka (12-) will beat Toko, who have let too many prisoners escape this year.

The West Taieri Pigs (13+) will be digging for truffles in the Valley and trot away with the win. Clutha (13+) head to Gabriels Gully to steal all the pans from Lawrence. The Coalminers (13+) will be all over Heriot.