Support for forming C.Otago colts side

Geoff McPhee.
Geoff McPhee.
A push has started to try to get a Central Otago colts team playing in Dunedin next year.

Cromwell man Gary Smith said he had talked to Central Otago clubs and was also discussing  with the Otago union the idea of getting a team of young players from Central Otago to form a colts side.

At the moment, there is only the senior grade to play in after players leave school.

He said many youngsters left school and were simply not prepared, mentally or physically, for the senior grade.

It was hard for players who were 17 or 18 to be playing against players who could be twice their age.

The older players were much bigger in many instances and that was intimidating for younger players.

Smith, who has been a referee in Central Otago for more than 15 years, said many of the younger players were also not comfortable with the culture of some teams.

Many players left high school to do apprenticeships and were  aged only 17 and then just stopped playing, never returning to the game.

In some cases, they were standing on the sideline watching games when they should be playing, he said.Initially the side would be aiming to play in the junior colts grade but that would have to be worked out with the Dunedin Metropolitan Rugby Council.

He had met Central Otago clubs over the proposal and they had been supportive. A colts side would provide back-up for the  senior side.

The Central Otago side had a wide catchment to call on, from Maniototo to Queenstown, and might have just one training a week to cut down on the travel.

With a lot of growth and development in the area, the pool of available players was growing.

Coaching teams, finance and what the team would be called had yet to be worked out, but he was hopeful it would go ahead.He envisaged teams from Dunedin coming up once a year to Central Otago to play a game.

Otago Country board chairman Geoff McPhee said his board was fully supportive of the concept and if it was a way to get players back on the field, then it was great idea.

The geographical spread of players might prove difficult but was possible to overcome, he said.

The idea had been tried before but did not work due to logistical issues. The Clutha club, based in Balclutha, had a team in the Dunedin junior colts grade this year.

Those interested in joining the team should go through their local club. 

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