Matakanui latest club casualty

Another country team has called it quits.

Matakanui Combined has pulled out of the Central Otago premier grade.

It made the decision to skip the rest of the season at practice on Tuesday night.

The club had already defaulted two of its three games this season and would have had to have defaulted this weekend's scheduled match against Maniototo in Ranfurly.

It had only 13 players available for the fixture and, confronted with that reality, made the hard decision to drop out.

Clyde-Earnscleugh withdrew at the start of the season. It also cited a lack of players.

Matakanui Combined president Andrew Paterson said the club had 26 players attend an early practice session. but a run of injuries had depleted the squad.

"It just got to the point where we had no choice," he said.

"Everything was looking good. We played two pre-season games but then we had a couple of serious injuries ... and it just kind of started snowballing."

Paterson said the junior club was still in good health and he was hopeful an arrangement could be reached with Clyde-Earnscleugh to field a premier team next year.

"We are working in combination with Clyde at the moment with the junior club. And I expect we will have to work closely with Clyde going forward with the senior club as well.

"But we are not saying we need to combine just yet," Paterson added in regards to a more formal merger.

"We may just combine for the season - make a combined team but still keep the clubs separate."

Paterson played senior rugby in the area and has also coached, so he is emotionally invested in the club.

"There was a lot of effort put in during the off season to try and field a good competitive team. Then it got to the point where we were just trying to field a team and now this. It is very disappointing."

Matakanui's departure will leave the grade with seven teams and an awkward bye.

As far as the points table is concerned, Otago Country chairman Bob Perriam said the bye will be recorded as a 20-0 win, with the teams picking up five points.

Matakanui was beaten 48-10 in the only game it played, so its departure will not have any impact on the overall standings.

"There is a hell of a lot of players up in the Upper Clutha-Wakatipu area and there may well be more teams come out of those areas going forward, so it is not all bad news," Perriam said.


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