Flexibility key to keeping Citizens Shield games going

The Citizens Shield. Photo: Rugby In North Otago
The Citizens Shield. Photo: Rugby In North Otago
A bit of well thought-out rugby diplomacy ensured that Athletic Marist, lacking player numbers because of shiftwork, was able to fulfil its Citizens Shield responsibilities last Saturday when it was drawn to play Valley at Weston Park.

The North Otago Union decided at its weekly meeting that it would change the time of the game to 4.30pm last Saturday. Both teams were consulted and both agreed to play the game at the new time.

There was no change of luck however for Athletic Marist, as Valley took the game 44-14. But at least the match was played.

Last weekend's game at Weston was a start, but the real problem is still there as all unions attempt to increase the number of premier rugby players.

It is difficult in a region which is widely dispersed. North Otago produces players out of Waitaki Boys' High School and St Kevin's College.

Unfortunately the bulk of them leave school and spread far and wide.

Some clubs like Maheno, Valley and Kurow have adequate lighting to play their games at nights. Another suggestion has been that the union consider playing a game, or games, on a Sunday afternoon.

But that may run into the issue of attracting rugby supporters to such games.

Unofficial Sunday rugby attracted large crowds back in the 1960s and '70s.

Whether it would provide the same attraction today is another matter.

Possibly it would be a more positive reaction to the present situation which has already been hit by one default - which is one too many.

With Easter and duck-shooting opening weekends arriving in the next four weeks, the premier clubs will be allowed to arrange the time and location of the games over those two weekends between themselves.

Round four of Citizens Shield will be played tomorrow.

Maheno will play Athletic Marist at Maheno, Kurow will play Valley in Kurow and Oamaru Old Boys meets Excelsior on Whitestone Stadium number one. Times will be decided by the teams involved.

Whether it is the delicate nature of the surface on the main ground at Centennial Park or if it is for some other political reason, the main ground for North Otago rugby will be used only twice for premier rugby over the next seven rounds of the Citizens Shield.

 - Terry O'Neill 

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